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Writing Lesson: 14 Questions for Setting

by Aaron Hamburger Feb 6, 2013
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.

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