I've written before about Elmore Leonard's writing rules, but recently I came across a slightly extended version, and I think they're worth a (re) visit.
His first one is:
1. Never open a book with weather.
If it's only to create atmosphere, and not a character's reaction to the weather, you don't want to go on too long. The reader is apt to leaf ahead looking for people. There are exceptions. If you happen to be Barry Lopez, who has more ways to describe ice and snow than an Eskimo, you can do all the weather reporting you want.
I'd add a few more things not to open with, just based on what I've read (and these apply just as much to screenplays, by the way):
YOUR PRORTAGONIST WAKING UP, LOOKING AT THE ALARM CLOCK AND KNOCKING IT OFF THE TABLE. This usually is followed by him getting up and shaving, bleary-eyed, going to his fridge and finding all it contains is a jar of mustard and a can of beer.
YOUR PROTAGONIST DRIVING TO WORK. This is especially tempting for films becausae it's an easy thing to stick under the titles, but we've seen it too often.
A DREAM. The problem is that often the dream is much more interesting than what happens when your character is awake.
One of the big problems with all three of these is that they happen before anything interesting happens. I'm not saying you have to start with an explosion or a murder or something, but if you're going to show me the details of your character's everyday life, figure out how to make it interesting.
For instance, what small quirks make this person different? Don't go too far in the direction of zaniness, look for authentic characteristics. A good starting point might be the things your significant other or best friend do that really annoy you. Of course if this person is self-aware you might pay the price when they read what you've written, but I'm sure you expect to suffer for your art.
A MAD SEARCH FOR THE RINGING MOBILE PHONE. OK, I admit it, I lose mine in the sofa, too, or bury it under a pile of papers. But this scene been seen too often to be funny.
A FUNERAL. Especially a funeral on a rainy day. You might as well write "insert cliche here."
I'm sure there are more--feel free to add your own unfavorite openings in the comments.
(Want to get help in making sure your writing is fresh? Sign up for my online Writing Breakthrough Stratetgy program. There's a group version and a one-to-one version in which I read and give you feedback on your material. You can get the details at www.WritingBreakthroughStrategy.com )