Hey V here. I’m at the beach with my family and it has occurred to me that being at the beach is a lot like writing. “Whaaaaaaat?!” you ask. Let me explain.
1 – When you get to the beach you look around and pick out the spot you like. Some areas might be crowded, others might be sea-weedy, but you get to decide where to set your stuff down. You can’t begin a story without a setting. You might not know all the details about your setting yet (like how far you’d have to dig to hit water or if the sand is wet enough to support your castle), but you have to pick some place to start.
2 – The sand is your canvas. It’s blank and you can make anything you want. You can build a castle, or a giant 3D dolphin, or a six-foot tall birthday cake with driftwood candles and sea glass decorations. When you write, you are only limited by your imagination, at least if you write fiction.
3 – When boredom sets in you can do something new. You can dig in the sand, swim in the water, fly a kite, play on the swings, jump off the lifeguard chair, chase seagulls. Switch things up. Are your characters happily ensconced in a beer at local watering hole? Move them around. Perhaps the tap runs dry or the proprietor closes up and kicks them out, or lightning strikes the bar at the exact moment your heroine blasphemes.
4 – New characters and activities might suddenly appear out of nowhere, like the ice cream man. He drives up unexpectedly and offers treats at a reasonable price. (My mother says the Ice Cream Man’s prices are practically extortion). Maybe in your story, he kidnaps the heroine and offers her as the treat…or something less nefarious.
5 – Peril is to be found hiding just out of sight around every corner. Sharks feed in the early evening and people have been attacked in three feet of water (not at my beach, of course). One could drown – although that’s a bit lacking in creativity on my part. Oooooh, one could almost drown and be rescued by a vixen of a lifeguard, leading to the first meeting between the hero and heroine. Naturally, it would be the hero who would nearly drown. And don’t even get me started on the dangers of hole digging on the beach. Seriously, does my husband NEVER watch the Discovery channel?
6 – Suddenly, unexpectedly, it can all go terribly awry! A beautiful day with a nice breeze can lead to terrible sunburn if you forget to reapply your sunblock. Similarly, a lovely story with everything going for it can suddenly fall apart if you lose track of the plot.
7 – And the best thing about both writing and going to the beach is this: tomorrow you can start all over again. Your beach is smooth, you can pick a new spot, make something new, have a different flavor if ice cream, avoid new perils and remember the darned sunblock!
So what’s your favorite aspect of writing? Or beach going, for that matter?