Next year I will be traveling to Ireland with some friends and it got me thinking about travel writing. Wouldn’t it be awesome to get paid to travel around the world and write about your experiences? It sounds like a dream job to me.
So it got me thinking about what a good travel writer does. Here are some of the things I learned through my research:
- Start the story with a good hook (like a short antidote) to grab readers from the beginning. This is really the same as any good news story. You have to get the readers attention.
- Travel writing is like writing a news story: there should be a reason you are telling a story. The article should include who, what, when, where, and why. A lot of travel articles are centered around a single experience. Think: Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell.
- Write in the first person, past tense. However, don’t be afraid to break the rules if the story demands it (Yes I know I am breaking most of the rules with this post. Have I mentioned I am not a morning person?).
- Always include details – describe the sights and sounds around you. Show don’t tell!
- Read. All writers should be voracious readers so that they know the tradition that comes before them.
- Travel and travel often. You can even travel within your own town: the only thing that you need is curiosity (and a pen).
- Always look beyond the obvious, beyond the superficial to see the authenticity of a place.
- Take pictures. A lot of pictures – people are very visual, so try and include pictures that help tell your story.
- Start a blog. If you want to be published, you have to be seen. If you know where you want to be published, study their website or magazine. Don’t just send them your pitch and hope for the best. You should study their website/magazine and think about how you fit within the overall style.
- Just write.