I come into contact with sand almost every day now we have a dog. We walk on our sandy beach or we go to the next bay along, Sand Bay – where there is lots more sand, or head south to the beach beyond the peninsular called Brean Down – Brean Sands.

Here’s something I prepared earlier:

Weston-super-Mare, where I live, has a wide sandy bay, but beyond the sand is mud, mud, dangerous mud. Our little town is on the Severn estuary, and other rivers flow into what becomes St George’s Channel too so we get a lot of sediment in the sea too. The village we live in on the southern end of the bay has a river running into the sea here, so more mud. The Bristol Channel has the second highest tidal range in the world, and the low tide mark in Weston Bay is about a mile out from the seafront. So when the tide is out there are vast mudflats; all along the beach are warning signs about how dangerous the beach can be, but every year people ignore the signs, drive out to where their cars get stuck, or walk out and get stuck themselves, and sadly we have had people drown because of it.

When the tide comes in, racing in, it comes in beneath the surface as well as across it, and the sand and mud can turn to gel, trapping the unwary. What looks sound, safe and secure can suddenly be extremely dangerous. As a writer I sometimes want to create a similar scenario for my readers; everything in the narrative seems safe and stable, the reader is led to believe certain people are sympathetic and nice and is lead along a reading path which seems predicable. They anticipate where the story is going and maybe even how it is going to end. I like to change the apparent into the unexpected – so suddenly characters are in a different situation, and maybe reveal different things about themselves, hidden motives for example. However, just as on Weston beach there are signs and warnings, so in a narrative there have to be signs, sometimes subtle ones though, so when the unexpected does happen it is in a believable context.

This hovercraft was on the beach by Uphill, where we live…


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