Hack Writer

Sometimes writers worry so much about superficial perfection that the identities of their characters seem to get a bit lost. They're still there, though, in the details.

Two boys, almost men but not quite, are sitting idle next to each other in the sand.

In Neptune, where they reside, they each have a clear, unchangeable role. One is wealthy and popular, the son of a movie star; the other is the sneering leader of a Hispanic motorcycle gang. They resent and ridicule one another, delighting in public scenes and a notorious rivalry.

But here in the quiet lagoon, they don't think about brown and white or rich and poor. They don't think about much of anything. They just sit together, dangling their toes in the warm water.


"You gotta get away from me, I'm hot!" The momentary pause allowed them both to pick up the subtext. The darker-haired man gave a lopsided smile, but the scruffy man wasn't amused. "No, I'm radioactive! I'm bad news!"

The dark-haired man moved closer, saying, "I know how people persecute you. Believe me, I'm not really in the best repute these days either. But... when I'm around you..." Now both of their bodies were glowing. "...I'm radioactive too. It feels good."

"You mean, I'm not alone? I'm... in your debt, man."

They embraced, and immediately started building to a critical mass.


A beautiful girl emerges from the icy water. She catches sight of a figure on the shore. Frowning, she swims closer. "What are you doing here?" she calls suspiciously. "Just sitting by ze 'Ogwarts loch in ze freezing cold?"

"Lake," corrects the other girl.

"Eet ees not important. You are going out with zat boy Cedric, are you not? Helping him find out what ze uzzer champions are planning for ze second task?" She climbs out of the frigidity to refuel and find out what Cedric's girlfriend wants.

"No." The dark-haired girl shakes her head. "I'm only watching you swim."


"I'm sorry, miss, but you have cholera..." he said.

She couldn't help herself: "That's pronounced with a K sound, you know, not like cha-cha. And it doesn't rhyme with hole. It's kaaa-ler-uh."

"Oh, you enjoy that, don't you? Ease up, huh? I'm not a doctor, I just play one on TV. OK, let me start over. Ahem. I'm sorry, miss, but you have kaaaaaaa-ler-uh. It's a very serious... uh. Why are you looking at me like that?"

"Oh, no reason, cutie. Let's just jump to this oddly hand-written part of the script, where 'doctor checks girl's breasts for more cholara'."


As the night waned, she got used to his cold touch, and felt more and more attracted to him. She squirmed in her car seat, trying to get a better look at him in the moonlight. His face, his hair, were all hard angles and sharp points, but his smile was soft and sweet (at least when he remembered to turn on the charm).

"We could love each other, right?" she squeaked. "Even though I'm fifteen and you're like, what, three hundred?"

He turned his conflicted, oddly naive face to her. "Your sister is going to absolutely kill me... again."


You've been busy stitching up Jack's back and exploring the island, but when you see the pregnant girl sitting alone, you pause to ask her if she needs anything. She's a bit sunburned, her skin scalier than it should be.

"Pregnancy makes you crave the weirdest things," she laughs. "Right now I'd kill for a latke."

"Good luck finding potatoes to make one with," you say dryly. "I doubt they'd have survived the plane crash even if there were any."

"Then no, but thanks for asking." She smiles. "Want to sit down?"

A break isn't a bad idea, you decide.


The mole finished installing the hidden mike and camera in the bathroom ceiling.

The freshly-showered young blonde finally spotted the hard-faced woman descending from the ventilation shaft. "Oh! I didn't see you up there! Want to dry my back?"

The mole took the towel in her left hand, and with her right warmly caressed the girl's face, drawing her attention away from the ceiling. As she commenced softly but purposefully rubbing the younger woman's flawless shoulders, the spy wondered yet again: how could a master operative (and expert lover) like Jack have spawned an offspring that was so relentlessly inane?


The hobbit searched desperately for kingsfoil, the plant he had been told to find. The man had led them this far without maps, and he had saved them from the black riders twice; the hobbit trusted him to know his herbs. Sage and tarragon and rosemary lurked among the trees, but there was no sign of the weed.

The hobbit stopped scrabbling and took a deep breath. He hadn't done anything on this quest besides fumble everything up. The rugged, handsome stranger might know all about tracking and fighting, but this was gardening. This was his chance to prove himself.


"Hi-dilly ho-dilly!" says the first customer of the evening, strolling jauntily into the tavern. "I'd like to talk to you about mugs. I carry a line at my shop that, unlike yours, caters to the left-handed population."

"Left-handed beer mugs?" the bartender asks incredulously. The phone rings and he picks it up. "Is Eddie Bulthong here?" he asks loudly, then realizes what he's said. He slams down the phone and utters a plaintive meow of a groan. "Okay. Don't ever tell anyone about that and I'll stock your damn mugs."

"Done!" the customer says cheerfully, and leaves without buying anything.