{discover.play.build.} research a place

My friend Tam is writing a story about a rodent who wants to visit Paris. I’ve been enamored by Tam’s work on this project. (And I’ve even found myself liking the rodent, Neville, who is quite charming and likable, once one gets over the fact that he is, in fact, a rodent.) Recently what has me most intrigued by Tam’s story is she has never been to Paris. Yet this is the setting of her story, and it’s working out quite well for her.

What place have you’ve never visited, but
find intriguing?

I think maybe I’ve taken the advice, write what you know, too literally when it comes to setting. There are many things we can write that we don’t know, but can imagine. As I was flipping through POP UP LONDON by Jennie Maizels and paper engineering by Richard Ferguson (Candlewick Press, 2012), I found myself imagining story possibilities. What if…How about…I wonder…tumbled around my mind. It was then I realized I can write a story set in a place I’ve never been. (Click here to see more of my thoughts about this book.)

If you’ve never been to Cyn’s
website or followed her on Twitter
You are missing out BIG TIME!
Click the links and be ready to be
engulfed in her online spaces.
The collecting and research process will be much different to develop a setting for a story if I’ve never actually visited the place. But it’s not impossible. Writers do it all the time. (I quickly thought of Cynthia Leitich Smith (make sure to click the link to go to her website and follow her on Twitter) and her book DIABOLICAL. She wrote scenes taking place in hell and I’m sure she’s never visited there. In the notes on the back of the book she notes her research into literature to gain an understanding of the setting. To read more about this check out my post about DIABOLICAL on Two Writing Teachers.)
So all of this is inspiring today’s {Discover. Play. Build.} Challenge. I can’t wait to hear what you discover and document.
Consider a place you’ve never visited, but find intriguing. You may want to use the list you created last week. The place can been real or fictitious (or maybe you’ll want to do this twice, one for each). Spend some time learning some things about this place. Record the things you find most interesting.
Here is a page from my notebook about food in London.

This is the photo I’m printing and taping into my notebook.

How about you? What are you discovering through your play?

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  1. yesterday I began writing about running, about the trail and the creatures who share the trail with me – trying to notice the difference between morning and evening creatures – it has been nudging my creative juices

  2. A few years back I was intrigued by Italy when studying the Renaissance with my 6th and 7th graders. I just found out that next year I will be able to teach social studies on my Spanish weeks and it is the year for that same cycle again. I am looking forward to revisiting it. I will have to play around with your idea this summer (once my dissertation is complete or close to it hopefully) and then I can use then I can scaffold my students' own explorations during the school year. This post is already sparking a lot of possibilities… Thanks!

  3. Thanks for giving Neville a plug. Paris awaits him–oh, the sights and the food, the food!! Need to make the list of those places I know inside and out, also.