The point of the place

A few years ago I used that passage in my memoir-writing class to suggest how to write about a place. Mere facts, I said, aren’t sufficient (“our house was on Spruce Street,” “the neighbors had a dog named Spot”). The task is to find the point of the place—its identifying idea. It may be waiting for you to find it. Or you may have to impose on the place some larger idea of your own.

William Zinsser