Writing Prompts: Place

“Place is far from static. It refuses to remain simply the town, coffee shops or even beds we know. Indeed, place may be the most mutable and dangerous of all elements, because it reforms itself around us, holds us even when we escape it.” —Editor’s Note, Vol. 1.1.

This isn’t a literary review that thinks of place as just the setting for a story, but something that actively shapes the narrative. When place itself is large enough to become another character, we’d love to see your work. Until then, here are a few writing prompts on place to get you started.


Sometimes a single image or word sparks a story. Include a description of all the five senses relating to that image or word, then try broadening the perspective. Where is it? Are there people there? What are they doing? Who are they?

Take some time to people watch. This works especially well in a coffee shop, park, or other public places. Jot down observations about the people. How are they interacting with one another? What’s their body language? How does this all relate to the particular location?

Write a guided tour of your immediate area ending with the place you live. Start as close or as far from your home as you can. Walk, drive, or ride the train.

Create a still life of a room with no people, but with some striking element (e.g. a spilled glass of water, an overturned chair, a ripped piece of paper, keys on the floor, shed clothing). Describe what happened just before or just after that moment.

Write about a place that you avoid. Why do you never go there? What is the fear? What does the place smell like? What memories does the place trigger?

Write about a place you go to too often.

Hear Claire Davis: The Art of the Story

On March 11 at 7:30pm on Pacific University’s Campus, award-winning novelist Claire Davis’ will read from her work. (Get Silk Road Issue 1, Volume 1 to read Claire’s essay, “Stick by Stick” and her interview on the role landscape plays in her fiction.)

Claire Davis’ hard-biting prose and unwavering honesty make her fiction and nonfiction capture what it means to be human. Her writing is finely made and full of surprises. We see ourselves in her characters and pull hard for her to show them surviving their mistakes – which they sometimes do. Davis tells a great story with stunning craft and delivery. When she reads aloud audiences have been known to listen so hard they forget to breathe.

Claire Davis’ first novel Winter Range was listed among the best books of 2000 by the Washington Post, Chicago Sun Times, Denver Post, Seattle Post, The Oregonian and The Christian Science Monitor, and was the first book to receive both the PNBA and MPBA awards for best fiction. Her second novel Season of the Snake, and her short story collection Labors of the Heart were both released to wide critical acclaim.

Join us! We’ll hear Claire at 7:30pm in Taylor Auditorium in Marsh Hall. www.pacificu.edu for directions