Good writing has a way of really capturing the feel of a place. Take Bruce Springsteen. A song like “Fourth of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)” makes a town along the Jersey Shore (in the pre-MTV show days) seem magical and alive. Another song, “My City of Ruins,” paints a dire but hopeful picture of his hometown.
Links to the songs, if you’re curious (this is not the last time you will see Springsteen in this class, so get used to him):
“4th of July, Abury Park”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KgFHM8HMbWQ
“My City of Ruins”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RnkJa6HdgJw
In Springsteen’s lyrics (just another form of writing), he uses a technique I’ll bet you all have learned in English classes before: showing and not telling. He doesn’t come right out and say, “This town is cool, you should come visit,” or “This town kinda sucks, you should never come here,” yet we know by the end of the song how he feels. He uses vivid description to get his point across. He uses simile and metaphor, he uses words with connotations (positive or negative, depending).
There are pretty much three ways to feel about your hometown: You love it, you hate it, or you have mixed feelings about it. In 200-300 words, I want you to do what Springsteen did: paint me a picture, in words, of your hometown that lets me know how you’re feeling about it. But don’t tell me you love it or you hate it: show me.
You can write about the buildings, the people, the places you used to go. Your parents’ house, your best friends’ house, the pizza place. The homeless guy on the corner who used to sing to himself. Anything’s fair game. Capture the feeling.
A lot of you are from nearby or similar towns. Keep in mind that two people can look at the same thing and see two entirely different things.