How to Write a Beach Scene


Part One

  1. At first, focus on the overall atmosphere.

    » A. To start your story,describe the weather, the crowd and their activities.

I.     Begin with the weather but ease your way into describing what the five senses are experiencing. Describe the feel of the sand between the character’s toes, the brightness of the sun in their eyes, the sounds of the waves, the sounds of children playing in the sand, the taste of the ocean water. Here are some words you can use:

    A. Sight:
    Majestic Deep blue ocean
    White foam
    Golden sand
    Dazzling/Shimmering sunlight making the sand sparkle like a thousand tiny jewels

    B. Sound:
    Waves crashing against the shore
    Seagulls screeching
    Wind blowing lightly


    C. Smell:
    Humid sea air
    Gritty sand
    Cool water


    D. Feelings:


II.     Use metaphors, similes and color to breathe life into your scene. The ocean is an aqua blue, the sand is pale yellow, and the sun is a fierce, hot yellow. The sky is a gorgeous light blue with big, fluffy white clouds. Here are some phrases you can use:

    A. Infinite blue sky above with promising sunshine. 
    B. A warm breeze swirls around him/her sending their hair in all different directions.

    C. Long golden sands with the waves lapping on the shore.

    D. First thing that hit him/her was the salty air.

    E. The humidity felt like he/she was entering a sauna, although the breeze was strong.


III.     Then write about what the other beach goers are doing,e.g. playing football, throwing the Frisbee at each other, volleyball, swimming, the tanned bodies lying in the sun, children playing in the sand building sandcastles, someone waterskiing and paragliding. Someone going to the ice cream shop at top on the beach, etc……

Example 1:  

Jonah hadn’t been to the beach since his first semester of college started. It had been a long couple of months but he survived nonetheless. And, instead of going to a frat party to drink himself silly, he wanted to revisit the place where he first fell in love with life. Could it have been the dazzling sand that sparked in the golden sunlight, or the hungry seagulls beating their wings against the ambush of wind.

Listening with both an open heart and ear, Jonah heard the waves crashing against a nearby rock. This rock had been the go-to place for him as a kid. He used to jump off of it and into the water, or sit on it and read his favorite book.

As the memories poured in, Jonah headed over to the rock where he knew a flood of happiness would follow him. The best stress relief wasn’t popping pills or smoking a joint with his buds, nah… it was the peaceful serenity of the beach. The smell of saltwater traveling up his nostrils, releasing a spell-like hypnotic trance on him. Yes, it was the gritty sand against his bare feet, the tall, hard rock positioned appropriately against his butt as he read a book.

But it didn’t end there. The one thing that made Jonah always returned to the beach wasn’t only because of those reasons. It also had to do with the feel— the emotion he got whenever he looked out far into the ocean. He would forget all forms of agony, pain, regret and frustration. A strong since of peace and calm resided over him always. Only the beach made him feel such things.

With the infinite blue sky above promising sunshine, and the big, fluffy white clouds adding a touch of ecstasy.

Though, all of this fantasizing buildup went out his mind the moment he saw Carolyn, the life guard. She was ten years older than him, but ever since Jonah could remember he had a major crush on her. Watching her sexy body climb up in her high chair with the binoculars in one hand and a whistle around her neck, gave Jonah an idea. A devious idea. The other beach goers meant nothing to him; he wanted her to notice him one way or another…. even if it meant fake drowning.


Part Two

  1. Something interesting should happen, no doubt.

    » A. A bit of mystery and action is always a good thing.

I.      Maybe the character moved to another part of the beach and it’s a lot louder or quieter? Or maybe there’s music, dance and a party.

II.     Don’t forget about that drama. Does the character see someone he/she knows and waves, however the person pretends not to know your character for whatever reason? What about a new romance or something dangerous happening in the water that has got the lifeguards involved?


Example 2:  

Then it happened. Just like that! No thinking, no pauses: Jonah jumped into the water, screaming. Carolyn looked his way immediately. Running quickly to save him, she blew her whistle for back up and used her binocular to find the fallen body. Jonah saw her every move through his squinted eyes, however he knew in order to make it look realistic, he had to go under water. So he did and in the water below, he pictured Carolyn rescuing him and kissing him…. uh, I mean… doing CPR.


    » B. How does the environment affect your character and what’s happening to them? Use the background to emphasize the character’s emotions rather than describing them.

I.    Be sure to give vivid imagery. Allow your reader to continue to see what is going on, in order for the scene to have a realistic feel. What I mean by that is, while you’re talking about the drama, mystery or action events that unfold, every so often add in the “normal stuff” that happens around the character. These can easily become a symbolic meaning. Here are a few “normal, symbolic meaning stuff” to give you an idea:

    A. The left overs of children’s sand castles = Loneliness, depression, a sense of loss and betrayal for your character. 
    B. The seaweed is piled in heaps, broken shells line the water line. =Scattered thoughts, a warning of a broken relationship, unclear/hazy memories

    C. Playful seal take a ride in a wave = happiness, childlike mindset, freedom, endless joy

    D. A whale surfacing to get a breath can be seen. = revelation, secrets unfold, epic adventure lying ahead

    E. Fishermen’s lines hanging off the pier into the water in hopes of catching dinner. = a new start, overwhelming beginnings, hope for the future, determination to improve one’s circumstances

    F. The sunlight starting to fade = dreams are lost, stuck in darkness, forbidden love

    G. Surfers exit the sea, and build bonfires in the pits and you smell marshmallows burning in the fire. = treasuring the here and now, aspiration ideals about life and upcoming events, finding happiness in the simplest of things


In other words, relate it back to what is going in the story. If your character is talking to a guy she likes, insert a part in your scene about a seal talking a ride in a wave. If your character is feeling miserable and is walking on the beach feeling lonely, insert a part in your scene about them seeing the left overs of children’s sand castles. Come up with your own if you like.

Example 3:  

Jonah had been knocked out — he really drowned himself without realizing it. The hot and heavy daydream about Carolyn saving him made him forget to come up for air. By the time Jonah work up, he saw seaweed piled in heaps in various spots on the beach. There were no children and broken shells lined the water line which was filled with debris.

“What, where am I?” Jonah said. Carolyn hovered over him. “Did I go to hell?” Jonah stood up. “There’s no way because you’re here. Tell me, what happened, Carolyn?”


Part Three

  1. Identify the main purpose of this scene. Don’t let it linger on without meaning.
  2. » A.Connect all that you can in this scene with your plot. Enhance the characters, bring in new revelations, and/or establish a long-lasting setting that will take place throughout the entire novel.

I.       What significant thing happens during this scene? Is it someone that your character meets? Something they find? What important event unfolds and how does your character handle it?

II.    What is the next step? If the scene’s purpose was for your character to meet someone, then are they going to leave the beach and go somewhere else to have a more serious, maybe private conversation? If not, the beach can be their go to area where they meet in secret, far, far away from the rest of the world.

III.     Does the ocean or animals on the beach have any relevance? Or does this scene on pertain around human beings and their behaviors toward one another? Animals can potentially save your character if they are about to drown. Animals can be in danger and your character tries to help them, and, in the process, they meet the love of their life or a true friend that wants to help this animal too. Hint: it could be the lifeguard.


Example 4:  

Carolyn spoke with such elegance. This was the first time Jonah heard her speak. “Your heart stopped beating and I had to do CPR on you. The ambulance is on its way so hang in there, okay.”

“Wait, Carolyn,” Jonah tried to speak as best as he could, “before they take me away, I want to say I love you so very much.”

    » B. Exit the scene in style, and leave hints about if the character will return or not.

I.     One of the best ways to finish a beach scene is to show how the scenery, setting and/or environment took effect on your character. For instance, did your character have more peace after visiting the beach or feel anger. Then, connect it back to your plot. Whatever trials and tribulations your character faced throughout the book, take from your simple beach scene and incorporate into the story.

Let’s say at the beach your character finally learned how to swim. Then maybe later on in your book have the character save someone who is about to drown, or join a swimming competition. Another example is if your character met someone. Maybe that special someone can later be of importance to your protagonist

II.     What is the most important image/memory that both the character and reader should take from this scene? It could be as small as the walk on the beach to as big as learning how to swim, finally. You decide. And, with that image/memory, have your character reminisce about their time on the way back home. Give them a short dialogue or monologue, saying how their time was well spent. (Unless, of course, they had a miserable time at the beach).

Example 5:  

Carolyn giggled. “I know,” she said, “before you woke up you were mumbling to yourself. I know everything. All about your crush, all about your fake drowning attempt.”

“And you’re not mad at me?”

Carolyn shrugged. “I was. But I guess I forgave you.”

Jonah closed his eyes and smiled. “See, this is why I love you. I don’t know you very well but your awesome personality shines through.”

“Don’t be corny,” Carolyn said.

“No, I’m being serious. When the ambulance comes to take me away, will I be able to see you again?”

Carolyn nodded. “Of course. You can always find me here.”

“Right, I almost forgot. Silly me. You’re a life guard.”

Carolyn turned red. “Um,” she said softly, “not just a life guard.” She pointed down. “I’m also a mermaid. The ocean is my home.”

Jonah looked down at the large, purple fin he had been resting on. Surprised to see that it was real and in no way a trick, he fainted once again. This time, he had a very vivid dream that only he will ever know about.



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