Experiences are more enjoyable when we can share them with others. This is especially true for travelling. For those who are not photographers or videographers, this particular craft is a great option.
It may be overwhelming deciding where to start. You want everyone to experience your journey, but want to avoid dragging things out. How can you strike a balance?
Don’t worry! We’ve got you covered. Here are seven pro tips on how to improve your travel writing.
1. Champion structure
Everyone loves to read exciting anecdotes, but this type of writing should be more organized than that. A stream of consciousness can be confusing. It’s crucial that you put a clear storyline into place. This way the reader can follow along easily and know where they’re headed.
Maps help people feel safe while traveling. Design a ‘map’ for your story and follow it. Readers will feel better charting off into the unknown if they have some kind of structure.
No one wants to feel like they are wandering around aimlessly. Keep this in mind when you write. Ask yourself what the point of your story is. Then, consider whether the narrative you’ve chosen is getting that point across.
2. Hook them from the beginning
Own your first paragraph. This is usually where your reader will determine if they want to keep reading or not. Grabbing their attention in a few lines is tricky, but possible.
Although, it may be tempting to start from the beginning, reconsider. Chronological storytelling is not always your friend. Driving to the airport or packing a suitcase aren’t fascinating plot points. Fast forward to the exciting bits.
Unless the beginning is necessary for your story, find another starting point for your adventure. Think about something or somewhere interesting to focus on. Action films often start in medias res, or in the middle, to grab viewers’ attention. Evaluate your story arc and climax. Maybe your story might benefit from starting in the middle of the action.
3. Show the real ‘you’
Your voice as the storyteller can make or break your writing. Cultivating a personal tone will take you far. Highlight what makes you unique, but don’t go overboard with trying to stand out. It’s a balancing act!
Emphasize why your experience was unique or out of the ordinary. It’s best to stick to writing in first person. When the reader feels like they are in your shoes, they will feel more compelled to keep reading. This is what makes travel writing enticing.
Be sure to include lots of description, but show — don’t tell! When you describe the sights, sounds, and smells of a place, your reader will feel transported there. Observations help readers with the bigger picture.
Last but not least, give opinions. These are especially important. At the end of the day, this is your story. Don’t be afraid of including how you thought something was beautiful, or even, strange.
4. Use your creativity
As you may already know, there are a lot of travel stories out there. That’s not to say that yours won’t be special. However, it does mean that people have experience reading these. There are some phrases that make people cringe from having read too many times.
Overused phrases and clichés turn readers off. Although recycling adages can be helpful when sharing the moral of the story, use them wisely. Avoid typical phrases for describing and opt for something different.
Spend a little more time reading definitions and synonyms. The effort will be worth it. When you have found an extraordinary way to word something, readers will remember it. This will enhance their reading experience immensely.
5. Write like you speak
Years of writing school papers may have taught you to write too much for the sake of a page count. This is not a classroom assignment. Your teacher is probably not reading this. Relax. Travel writing needs to transcend templates and predictable forms.
Write in the same way you would tell the story to a friend. In fact, imagine reading the story aloud to a friend. Doing this might help you improve any areas you need to rework.
Of course, you should try to minimize slang and fillers. You don’t have to be totally faithful to the way you speak. Still, try to capture that same spirit. Your sincerity will build rapport with your readers.
In the long run, your main goal is to entertain. You want the reader to be interested in and enjoy your story. It’s not an application letter, you don’t have to impress anyone. Be natural. People love honesty.
6. Quote them on that
When you travel, you can meet amazing new people. These people will have stories and wisdom to share. Why not share that with your readers?
Linda grandes, a blogger at Studyton, suggested that: “Sometimes, other people express ideas better than we can. That’s totally okay! It is also okay to use that person’s words in your story. Get their permission first. Imagine that your article is a research paper.”
Quoting people adds another layer of believability to your story. If it’s a conversation, then add dialogue. It can really bring a scene to life.
However, if you are going to quote someone, do it accurately. Take care not to twist words or meanings. It can be disrespectful and lead to problems like negative feedback or libel.
7. Do your research
It may seem straightforward, but not everyone checks their facts. Avoid embarrassment and make sure that any information you share is correct. A simple internet search could save you a lot of grief.
No one expects you to a geography whiz. However, knowing where a country you visited lies on a map is the bare minimum. Spell check is key here, too. Having misspelled names of cities and places is inadmissible in travel writing.
In terms of cultural customs and traditions, research is necessary, as well. Although we may think we understand, it’s possible that we don’t. Consider the ramifications of what you are going to say. If the topic is taboo or polemical, tread lightly.
So, whether you’ve just finished a trip or you’re reminiscing about a past one, you may want to write all about it. Go for it! Use these tips to help you and develop your own travel writing style along the way.
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