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The tips in this article complement the curriculum of the Travel Writing program at MatadorU.
    During Talk & Rock NYC, novelist Aaron Hamburger presented questions to help writers transcend the way they normally see a place. After a request from the audience, we’ve republished Aaron’s questions below.

1. How does this place smell during the hot weather?

2. What do people generally wear in the cold and hot weather here?

3. What can you buy here?

4. What kinds of things do people eat that are unique to this place?

5. What’s the biggest disadvantage about living here?

6. What’s something you never want do in this place?

7. What do people do here to make money? How do the richest people here live, and how do the poorest people live?

8. What are some stereotypes about people from this place? Are the people from this place aware of these stereotypes, and if so, how do they feel about them?

9. What’s the oldest thing in this place? (If you don’t know, guess.)

10. Where do people walk? Are there sidewalks, and are they clean? Paths? In the gutter alongside the road?

11. What’s something you hear almost every day here?

12. In what kind of places do people live?

13. What do people talk about in this place?

14. If your best friend announced his or her intention to move here, how would you react?

    - inspired by Mary Gordon

*For more writing lessons, check out the curriculum of the MatadorU Travel Writing program.

Travel Writing Tips


About The Author

Aaron Hamburger

Aaron Hamburger was awarded the Rome Prize by the American Academy of Arts and Letters for his short story collection THE VIEW FROM STALIN'S HEAD (Random House), also nominated for a Violet Quill Award. His next book, a novel titled FAITH FOR BEGINNERS (Random House), was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Poets and Writers, Tin House, Details, Michigan Quarterly Review, Boulevard, and the Village Voice. He has received fellowships from the Edward F. Albee Foundation and the Civitella Ranieri Foundation in Umbria, Italy, as well as residencies from Yaddo and Djerassi. He has also taught writing at Columbia University, NYU, and the Stonecoast MFA Program.

  • Scott Hartman

    Good food for thought.

  • Katka Lapelosová

    Yesssss so happy this was posted! Thanks!

  • Zhang Danning

    Oh, I had Aaron’s class last semester.

  • Jessie Wych

    Great stuff, Aaron. The more we live on the internet, the more we are losing scent, touch and taste. I’m always working with my students with those modalities.

  • Guest

    This is fantastic – thank you!

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