Tammie McElligott

The Perfect Obit by Tammie McElligott

Jo Reinhardt thinks if her obituary was written today, that hers would read as exciting as the grocery list that is at the bottom of her purse wrapped around a wad of chewed up gum.  She never worried before about what the folks in town would read about her until it dawns on her that the dirty deed of writing her obit would fall to her family and the thought of that makes it hard to breath, the squirts of nose spray can only do so much. She could see it now, if left to her almost grown children, they would enter her first name as Mom followed with - she yelled a lot. And if she were to go before her husband, he would use it as an ad to showcase his band “The Retro-Reruns”. Feeling that the obits in Lakemore, Michigan’s paper should tell the world more than the fact that one has passed away, gone to sleep, isn’t with us anymore, died, croaked, she sets out to write the perfect obit.  Dragging family and friends on her quest to live up to the perfect obit, Jo discovers it just might kill her.


The Book Doctors: This is such a fun idea, a great shaggy dog story. It has something of Mark Twain in it: a person who’s planning their own death and in doing so learns how to be alive. I love that the pitch shows, through obituary, how each important person in her life actually sees her. I love the specificity of her husband’s band “The Retro-Reruns.” Details like this really make a story come alive. I was trained as a Hollywood screenwriter first. The Hollywood screenplay structure has three acts. You only have one act here for your story; you’re missing Act II and Act III. I need to know what crazy shenanigans are heroine pulls in order to ensure that she gets a great obituary. It’s such a wonderfully absurd idea, but you don’t let me know what you’re going to do with it. You don’t amaze and delight me with the wild series of events that this ridiculous woman gets herself into and how it all escalates to a crazy Wham Bam finale.