Writing Prompt Story Starter: Footsteps In The Sand

Shutterstock / Mike Ver Sprill ©

If you ever visit the beach, there’s a good chance you will come across this week’s story starter – footsteps in the sand.

I find footsteps intriguing – who has walked there, and how long since the imprints were made. Sometimes there will be other footsteps alongside, or a dog’s paw prints weaving in and out of the steps as it picks up scent after scent.

I think beaches are great places to “get away from it all”. Whether it’s exercise, to enjoy some fresh sea air, or time to think. They also make good story locations.

In the “Friend”, we’ve had characters meet their other halves on beaches, find unusual items, which in turn have served as plot devices, and to ponder their lives – past, present and future.

I like the last example the best. Whether a beach is populated with others or not, the expanse of sand and sea makes it an ideal location to slowly contemplate life.

Maybe your story character has a big decision to make – will a trip to the beach solve matters? Or maybe two characters have much to discuss, and a trek on the sand mirrors their lives.

Life impressions

Footsteps in the sand won’t last for ever; they will eventually disappear through elements of the weather. If close to the water’s edge, the incoming tide will also have an impact.

But the people who made the impressions in the sand will still be there; the impressions they make in life influencing those around them. That’s the key – whatever the situation, a “Friend” story is always about the characters.

Footsteps don’t have to be made in sand to make a story. Snow, soil or even cement can highlight a person, bird or animal’s activity. A story scenario might revolve around characters following tracks. Possibly to help or even catch someone.

The resounding impression for me is that footsteps in the sand imagery is about taking leisurely timeout to be part of a day/moment.

When it comes to such footsteps, it’s about pondering life rather than rushing through it.

Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process, which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one tip to new writers is “write from your imagination”.