Story Starter: Towers of Stones

These towers of stones speak of patience. Photo: Shirley Blair.

I took this photo of towers of stones on one of the glorious long sandy beaches in my favourite Canary Island of Fuerteventura. It’s a nice habit we’ve fallen into, escaping from the rigours of a Scottish winter for a week in February. A good energy top-up after the festive period shenanigans, too, when we’re unbelievably busy here in the office. A weekly magazine doesn’t pause just because we’re on leave for a few days. It needs to appear on the newsstands as regular as clockwork, and that means compressing a five-day production process into three over the Christmas and New Year breaks.

Anyway, back to the photo. I’ve actually seen similar on a beach in Crete. Is it a thing?

But a lot of things intrigue me about this. Two towers of stones. Not just one. A couple in competition with each other, a race? To me it speaks more of patience.

Is the fact that there are two a symbol of partnership? A mindfulness exercise? A kind of therapy. Would I have found three the next day, maybe four the day after? Or none; just a heap of stones left after the tide bowled them over? Perhaps it’s a mind over matter thing, marking a kind of competition with nature. An obsession almost.

They’re all scenarios that have the potential to lead to an unusual short story. That’s my hope anyway.

As ever I’m on the look-out for 2000 or 3000 words. Genre-wise, you could be thinking about romance, for young or more mature characters. Does the picture begin to tell a period story? Somehow it doesn’t feel like it, but feel free to prove me wrong!

If I can make one plea, I’d prefer that it’s not a story about a widow/widower, or about a gran or grandad. So many writers think that’s the default “People’s Friend” story. Consequently anything more creative and different has a far better chance of standing out, catching the Fiction Team’s attention, and, more importantly, truly giving our readers something fresh and satisfying to enjoy.

Oh, and because you can never have too many beach pictures, here’s the other one I mentioned, in Crete.

Another tower of stones, this time on a beach in Crete.

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