Creative writing exercises – the sea

My pic of waves!

The sea is a powerful resource in creative writing. It is constant yet ever-changing and a force beyond our control. We associate it with catharsis and travel, relief and danger. In creative writing, the state of the sea could even set the tone for a scene or suggest a character’s emotional state.

In the pandemic many of us have pined for the coast. So If you miss the sea, why not write about it? And if you’re lucky enough to live near the shore, you already have plenty of inspiration at your fingertips!

Exercise 1. Jot down notes on a fictional seaside scene that makes you happy

  • This could be a list of words, a mind map or longer notes.

Some possible things to consider:

  • Are you writing in the first person (you) or third person (another character)?
  • What can the character (or you) smell, taste, feel, hear and see?
  • What is beneath the character? Water, sand or shingle? A quayside etc.?
  • What is around the character? Cliffs, lighthouses or giant rocks and rockpools etc.?
  • What is above the character? Storm clouds or a scorching sun? A sail or a dolphin?
  • If the character is in the water, what does it feel like to get out?
  • Is there something really beautiful about nature in this scene?

Exercise 2. Form a story

  • Write a short piece of prose or a poem, based on this scene that makes you happy. You can integrate descriptions from the above exercise.

    Some possible things to consider:
  • What object of interest might be found in this setting?
  • How does this object feel and how might it change the narrative?
  • Are you, or the character, alone or with others?
  • Could descriptions of the sea suggest the character’s mood?
  • Is the character trying to get somewhere or has s/he already arrived?
  • Does the scene have an element of surprise?

    They are just suggestions. Play around and see what happy scene you can come up with!
    Most importantly of all, have fun!

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