Writing Assignment: Write Driving Directions

by Randy Murray on April 12, 2013

You can’t get there from here.

That’s often true. Certainly not with those directions.

To me, verbal driving directions are practically useless. My memory and mind doesn’t work that way. Give me any set of instructions verbally and I’m lost beyond the thirds step. Thank the gods for GPS.

But what happens when the GPS fails, when phone service is unavailable? We’re back to paper maps and written directions, if you have them.

You no longer need directions to find your way home. You probably don’t even look at the street signs. You look for cues and landmarks and make the turns without thinking too much about them. You know the streets, the problem areas, and what lane to be in at what point. There’s a lot of information you’re using to find your way home that most instructions don’t provide.

“Turn right at the rock that looks like a bear, then left at the bear that looks like a rock.”

Let’s hope your directions are better than that.

For today’s assignment, write driving directions to your home that are clear and unambiguous. Make sure that your traveler can find you. Don’t depend on just route or street names—sometimes those are hard to see or recognize. Use landmarks, distances, and cues to help your traveler arrive safe and unfrazzled.

It’s also a good idea to start all directions from the reader’s frame of reference. Where are they? Start from there, and be clear, precise, and helpful.

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