In last week's Motivational Monday post, I mentioned taking a blogging break with the goal of actually starting one of my many projects, one of which was being a tourist in my own town. So, last Friday, my husband and I had breakfast down at the beach then went for a nice, long walk before the heat and the crowds rushed in.
I love walking on the beach for many reasons but one of my favorites is the sheer amount of things to see and people to watch. It is an ever changing landscape of nature, of humanity, and it is an amazing opportunity for creative exercises and story ideas. Here's a few scenarios that sparked my imagination:
* In the parking lot, two elderly men in matching t-shirts, carried marked sticks with fluttering tape, the kind that mark where sea turtles came onshore and laid their eggs. Hmm…were these mean really volunteers for the local aquarium? What if they were trying to impress some ladies and knew they were too old to pass for lifeguards? What happened to the turtle's eggs? Did they hatch? Were they eaten by animals? Stolen by humans? Part of some sick scavenger hunt?
* A middle-aged couple walk on the beach. The man yaps loudly on a phone while the woman walks quietly next to him. Does she wish he was holding her hand instead of his phone? Are they married? Is this trip a second honeymoon? Is she contemplating divorce as she stares down at the crushed shells beneath her feet? Or…what if they're on a first date? What if he thinks talking on the phone makes him appear more important, more interesting? What if he's only pretending to talk to someone? What if she really is impressed by his antics?
* Two boys, tan and skinny, about 10 years old, stand in the water up to their hips, fishing lines cast, no adults nearby. Why aren't these boys swimming and splashing and having fun? Why are they so serious? What if the fish they catch will be their food, their families' food, for the day? What if the boys are homeless? What if they plan on cooking the fish over an illegal fire later that night? What if the police who patrol the beach don't turn them in, give them sodas instead?
Those three examples only focus on people. Think about the wildlife, like pelicans and sandpipers. Think about the shells - broken and whole. Think about the debris that can - and does - wash up on shore. What about a child's yellow plastic sand shovel, bobbing in the surf, its owner long gone? That image can elicit sadness or shudders. (I'm sure you know which of those I'd go with if I was writing a story….)
What stories do you find at the beach? Or, if you're not a beach person, what do you see in the woods? The mountains? At the neighborhood pool? Do any of the "What if?"'s in this post spark any ideas for you? Go ahead and share in the comments!