Writer’s Digest has a round-up of ways not to start your children’s/YA story, including waking up (no dream fake-outs), lamenting a summer of torture, and a personal pet peeve: “Looking at oneself and describing one’s flaws, usually with a self-deprecating voice.”
Does that mean you can never start with the first day of school or dead parents? Not at all. But opening scenes like these have to be particular to your book. If your opening could easily be inserted in any other book, you need to reconsider those first few pages. Maybe what’s unique about compelling about your story starts a little later and you can cut the first chapter. Maybe you need to really insert the main character’s voice in that first paragraph. Maybe it’s the first day of school but your main character’s doing something totally unexpected.
Have you seen any cliche openers done really well? Any that particularly irk you?