Wednesday, January 15, 2014

January Secret Agent #16

TITLE: My Best Friend, Death
GENRE: YA Magical Realism

‘A meaningless life overshadowed by a meaningless death’ is what Damien expected to be inscribed on his tombstone. Instead, it just said ‘In Loving Memory’. It didn’t even have his name, birth, or death date on it. The granite was completely barren, save those three words.

What memory? Damien thought. His old body was stuffed in a cheap coffin and about to be buried under an unnamed stone. He was practically forgotten already. But what could he be angry about? His dad did the best he could. At three dollars per inscribed letter, ‘In Loving Memory’ cost him a hand of poker and a shot of Jack. Should his gambling withdrawal last any longer, Joey would surely pay the price in emotional bruises and quiet tears.

The funeral was even more pathetic than the gravesite. Paul—his father—Joey, Death, and Damien were the only people there, not including those visiting their loved ones. There wasn’t a priest or a eulogy; just his dad and brother—the entirety of his family—staring into a six foot hole as the summation of his sixteen year existence was slowly lowered into it. Thankfully, Joey was nice enough to bury him in his favorite My Chemical Romance shirt.

Damien hid behind a weeping willow as he watched from a distance. His heart ached at the sight of his brother clutching the Mickey Mouse necklace he once wore. Damien forced himself to suppress the desire to run up and wrap his brother in a hug he knew his dad would never give.


  1. With the near-worship of The Book Thief, I've grown tired of Death as a character. (So I fully intended to balk at this entry.) Surprisingly the details you supplied were full of emotion and with the authentic voice, you completely hooked me. (Maybe it's because I didn't have a great relationship with my father that this resonates.) Nice job.

  2. I enjoyed reading this and would continue to read more.

    I noticed the following style/grammar areas you could tighten up:
    --passive voice (body was stuffed, was even more pathetic)
    --unnecessary tag (Damien thought isn't needed)
    --dead words (just, even, etc - words that can be removed and don't change the sentence)
    --telling (ex/Damien hid behind a weeping willow as he watched from a distance. Show us what he sees instead of telling us)

  3. I really liked this. It flowed well, and I love that Death was thrown into the list of those watching him buried. This is a great opening, and I would definitely read more.

  4. I like the title, a novel about someone being friends with death should be interesting.

    I'm not clear on if the funeral is happening in this moment or if it is a past event Damien is reflecting on. I think it would be good to show Damien watching his funeral in this first 250. After the line, "The funeral was even more pathetic..." start with Damien hiding behind the willow and giving the details he's watching so readers know it's happening right now.

  5. The first two paragraphs definitely hooked me. My only real nitpick is the first line of the second paragraph...the punctuation was confusing "Paul--his father--Joey, ..." From the next lines it's clear that Joey's his brother, but I think you change that so it's more clear. My impression is that Joey is pretty young and it's sweet that Damien wants to protect him.

  6. In parg 2, his 'old' body stopped me. I wondered if it meant the body he used to have, or if he had been old when he died. It's not until further down that we learn he was sixteen when he died.

    It also doesn't follow that his family had forgotten him because his name, birth, and death date weren't on his gravestone. It only says his family was either cheap, poor, or didn't care about him. Since his family is there, and gravestones themselves are expensive, it can be assumed his family is poor, and you do go into that a bit with the 'poker' budget. But nothing in that parg shows that his dad and brother had already, or would soon, forget him.

    ANd, 'Thankfully, Joey was nice enough to bury him in his favorite My Chemical Romance shirt.' Why 'thankfully?' What would have happened if he'd been buried in a different shirt?

    I also wondered what Damien had become? IS he a ghost, a spirit? SInce his 'old' body implies he now has a new one, is it a fixed form? If he stepped out from behind the tree, would living people be able to see and touch him? Is he flesh and blood or some kind of spiritual entity? Perhaps that's something the reader should know on the first page.

  7. I thought this one was really interesting. We get some great details about the characters and the family dynamics here, without being subjected to an info-dump. (I loved the "At three dollars per inscribed letter" line, for instance). I was a little confused about the family members in the "Paul-his father-Joey, Death, and Damien" line, but that's easy enough to clarify. I'm really curious about Damien's situation now that he's dead, and think this is a solid opening overall.