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Using beaches in your writing

Writing through the senses

Why beaches?

Welcome to the last post (for now!) on writing through the senses. My son and I went to the beach yesterday – mainly for ice cream and a paddle in the sea – and it made me think about how different the beach and the sea are every time I visit. This is a realisation that comes back to me time and time again because I grew up by the seaside and live by the seaside now. But it always amazes me each time I think of it.

Why use beaches in your writing? Because they are liminal places, where the sea meets the land, and because they involve particular smells, tastes, colours, textures, sights and sounds, whether we’re talking traditional British seaside holiday, or exotic getaway on a castaway island.

These writing prompts involve remembering beaches you’ve visited but you could substitute a different kind of water (lakes, rivers, streams, canals) if beaches haven’t figured frequently in your life. Here’s what you do:

Recall the beaches you’ve visited

Recall the beaches you’ve visited that really stick in your head for some reason. These don’t have to be pleasant memories, by the way. For instance, I went to Brighton beach, near where we live, just after the first lockdown with a friend and it was so crowded I hated it – and I consider myself a beach-lover.

Try to think of several different beaches that contrast with one another. Perhaps a crowded beach contrasted with a beach where you were the only person there. Or one in your home country contrasted with one you visited on holiday in another country. Or several contrasting beaches in the same country. Or a beach covered in pebbles contrasted to a sandy or rocky beach. Or the same beach at different times of the year. You get the idea.

To take this further, colllect images of different beaches together or make up imaginary beaches – unpleasant ones and lovely ones!

Writing prompts

Once you’ve collected or imagined your beaches, use these suggestions:

  1. Write descriptions of the different beaches, by getting specific, and using all of the senses you have available to you.
  2. Imagine something (a suitcase, a large amount of money, a body) was found on a beach. Who did it belong to and who found it? What happened?
  3. Take your beach writing even further by finding interesting ways to connect your beaches together.

Have fun with your beach writing and let me know how you get on.

More soon. Until then, happy writing,

Lou xx

P.S. If you’d like more exercises like these, take a look at the Small Steps Writing Guides.


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