Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Creative writing - Describing a place (in this case - the beach)

One of my favorite places to visit is North Topsail Beach, NC.  Unlike many visitors, it's not the sun I'm seeking - it's the solitude. That's why I tend to go early morning or late evening.  It's one of those places where your troubles can be washed away - where the stress of the day can float away on an ocean breeze.

North Topsail Beach, NC

So I was thinking about how I could describe the beach.  We've all read about water rushing to shore - but a beach is more than that - it's the sum of several things coming together to form something completely elemental.  

Where to begin?  I think we turn to the basics - our five senses.

Hearing:  There is something to be said for the sounds of the beach...the pounding of the waves, the momentary quietness as the water rushes back to the sea...the cries of the birds as they fly overhead-searching for their next meal and the howling of the wind.  
Touch  Feeling the sand beneath my feet - And the water as it runs over my toes.  The feel of the wind as it touches my skin.
Sight:  There's a lot to see - the sand, shells, water, sky and grasses.  There's crabs, birds, and dolphins and perhaps a boat just off-shore.  People may be walking, swimming, or surfing.  There's bound to be seaweed or a dead fish, not to mention a sandcastle or a discarded beer can.
Smell:  A beach has a certain smell.  It's several aromas blending together - salt, suntan lotion, decaying sea life.
Taste:  Who hasn't been tossed by a wave or two and come up sputtering - after having swallowed a mouthful of salt water?  If you haven't - you've missed out!  Seriously, the salt seems to hang so heavy in the air that it seems like you can almost taste it. 

If you can't get to a beach, find a picture and close your eyes.  Let your mind do its job - imagine or recall a trip to the beach - the sounds, the smells, etc - and then write it all down!

-DS McKnight

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