Sense of Place Essay
Use MLA format.
Please print these guidelines and refer to them often as you write. Because this essay is personal, you are allowed to use first person pronouns (I, me,) but please avoid second person pronouns (you).
Thinking of a certain place can bring about strong emotions. A sense of place essay strives to do the same. This form of a descriptive essay requires you to describe a particular location, such as a childhood home, a park, or an entire city, and you will write your essay so that the reader believes she has been there.
Selecting the right topic can make all the difference when you begin writing your essay. To make writing easier, make a list of places that make you feel a strong connection. Close your eyes and picture the location. Your essay will require details, so make sure you have a clear image of the places you write down. Once you have a list of places, choose the place that has the most meaning to you. When you have a clear image and a strong connection to the place, you may find you have more to say and there is less likelihood of suffering from writer’s block. [Reference: personal experience]
Details make up the main part of a sense-of-place essay, so you will need to consider all of your senses: sight, sound, taste, smell and touch. Can you see the layout of your grandmother’s home? Can you hear the dishes clinking in her kitchen? Can you taste her cookies? Do you smell the moist soil around a lakeside cabin? Can you feel the grain of the wood on the staircase? Use specific details when you describe the place. Do not simply state “the dishes.” Perhaps the dishes were mismatched plates, each with a chip along the edge. These details create a sense of place and build a connection with the reader.
Along with concrete details about a location, a sense-of-place essay requires you to reflect on the place and your own connection to it. In “The Sanctuary of School,” Lynda Barry reflects on what it meant to have that safe space to go to when her home was too scary for her. Perhaps the place you write about provides you with a sanctuary from the stresses of everyday life. Or perhaps the negativity in your childhood helped define the choices you made as an adult. If you struggle to find a connection to the place you choose to write about, make a list of feelings you associate with the location. This may help as you reflect on the importance of the place.
Begin by introducing the place. Tell the reader the location and then state how this particular place impacts you. Throughout the rest of your essay, provide specific details using your senses and description, as well as particular memories that explain the effects this place has on you. In the closing paragraph of your essay, reiterate the importance of the place. In the end, your reader should believe she has been to this location and has a similar, strong connection.