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.