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I wrote the following:

Having finished her breakfast, Tsuki went to take a walk at the beach. She made her way through the sand barefoot, feeling the cold water and foam run between her toes. This was one of her favorite sensations in the world. It reminded her of a distant childhood. Afternoons at the beach building sand castles and swimming under the sunset. Those days were only memories now. Did she still own them? She sat on the sand and gazed at the sea. There were still enormous waves, so high that they looked like skyscrapers. A big tree trunk was being tossed up and down among them.

I was wondering whether the rhythm/flow in the passage above (the bold section) is OK. Should I add a third item in the second sentence to make it more complete? Is the last one sentence too abrupt?

(The "did she own them," part has to do with the theme of the story. The story is about ownership and belonging.)

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Is this from the first page of your manuscript? –  Derfder Nov 6 '13 at 13:53
    
@Derfder more like the middle part. –  Alexandro Chen Nov 6 '13 at 14:11
    
This might be easier to answer if you told us what sort of feel you want to convey. –  Neil Fein Nov 7 '13 at 15:51

3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Too fragmented for my liking.

First, the brakes cry foul as you change the tempo from fast-forward "Having finished her breakfast, Tsuki went to take a walk at the beach" to idle foam running between toes, without as much as a paragraph break. Give us a paragraph that introduces the beach, removing shoes, touch of sand - one paragraph of braking from breakfast fast-forward to dipping your toes in sea foam is really not too much to ask for.

Then - sentences this short are good for rapid action, breathless fight. Definitely not good for reflexions like yours, and the descriptions are lacking depth too.

It reminded her of a distant childhood: afternoons at the beach building elaborate sand castles with multitude of colorful sea shells decorating castle walls, drawbridges of driftwood and gates of sticks; swimming under the sunset, ...

Smooth it out. Give it flair. Make the sentence flow and build upon what she's missing, make it rich and desirable. The two ending sentences build a good closure for that, bringing the paragraph to a conclusion.

Then, having done that, use the "She sat on the sand and gazed at the sea..." as start of a new paragraph. You gained an insight, ended an introspection, reached a conclusion, and now it's time to move ahead with the life - starting with a new paragraph.

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I'm not a native speaker, so this will be bad English. Also, of course I know nothing about your character and story, so I'll use examples that don't fit your own work. But I guess you'll get the idea.

Having finished her breakfast, Tsuki put the dishes in the sink, grabbed her beach towel and went out the terrace door. For a moment she just stood there in the bright light, letting the fresh wind off the sea clear her mind. Breathing in the smell of salt and sand, she finally and completely arrived, leaving the city, the loss of her job and her quarrel with Ben behind. Barefoot she stepped over the hot planks, away from it all, and into the warm sand.

Smiling from the comforting warmth she made her way through the sandy valleys between the grass covered dunes, listening to the gulls and the wind and the waves breaking louder with every step. Arriving at the beach, she was happy to see that she was alone. She dropped the towel, took off her jeans and t-shirt, and ran the short distance to the water's edge and knee-deep into the waves.

Feeling the cold water and foam run between her toes she stood as if in her past. This was one of her favorite sensations in the world. It drew her back to distant childhood afternoons with her parents building sand castles and swimming under the sunset.

But those days were only memories now. Did she still own them? Tsuki sat on the sand and gazed at the sea. Far out at see the waves were enormous, so high that they looked like skyscrapers. A big tree trunk was being tossed up and down among them.

The idea is to provide enough detail to make the scene and the events palpable to the reader and "take them there"; to give cause to the character's actions; to provide transitions by following the characters from one place to another (instead of "beaming" them around).

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Hmm, I don't see/feel any "more-than-average" rhythm/flow there.

E.g.

This was one of her favorite sensations in the world. It reminded her of a distant childhood.

I would change it to something like:

This was one of her favorite sensations in the world, reminding her a distant childhood.

In your example there is a pause, so the reader can stop and think about the sensation. In my example it's presented as a fact that is not important to analyze or think about. You just accept it ;).

In crime/mystery stories you can often find out what thing is important, beacuse the author mentions it more than once or use more sentences like you have done. If it's something not very important and just helps to imagine the space etc. he puts commas there ;)

Btw. try to eliminate the vast usage of This, it, those. E.g. in your 4 sentences, 3 of them started with This, It and those.

I mean, it's OK for a non-fiction to be specific, but I would be more careful in fiction and try to start sentences with less pronouns. If it's possible.

E.g. try to avoid this:

This is my house. It is very big. And that thing is my car.

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