The Art of Travel Blogger -Basic Tips
So you want to do some travel writing and the reasons are probably pretty clear. It’s fun, right? Especially that travel part. Someone else pays you to or challenges and rewards meld into one. The globe grows smaller; your perspectives widen. What’s not to love?
Anyone seriously considering a career in travel writing probably knows, however, that it isn’t a vacation. A successful travel writers don’t sleep in, order room service, and hit the spa. They don’t crack open the laptop at a beachside bar to dash out lazy thoughts with an umbrella drink and call it good. Professional travel writers are successful business owners there to get a job done.
What’s The Work of Travel Blogger ?
And what exactly is the “work”? Travel writers need to think of themselves more like reporters at first. They don’t just order something adventurous off the menu and post it on social medias. They corner the chef and ask thoughtful questions about what inspires her. They stop to read the roadside signs no one ever reads. They observe and take notes. Most critical of all, travel writers don’t just bop around a destination. They have a goal and they spend their trip tackling its obstacles relentlessly. At the end of the day they have more questions than answers.
Then, of course, the real work begins. They take all of those experiences and distill the right ones down into sentences that become paragraphs organized into clear sections full of imagery, dialog and pivot points. They refine and fact check and write again, over and over, graciously and exactly as a stressed-out editor orders, until the story reads as smooth as fiction. That’s right, fiction. The facts must be watertight, without exception, but the best travel writing reads like a story.
The idea is to start a blog or fulfill a dream of writing for National Geographic, this guide is meant to help you become a better storyteller. It is by no means a definitive guide but rather a place to share some of the strategies that have worked for me over the years. So many excellent writers and editors have taken me under their wings along the way and so this is also an attempt to repay that debt. I’ll share their most insightful tips, too. If you have any tips, I’d love to hear them, too.
The focus may be on longform narrative travel writing but many of the ideas expressed here translate into other types of travel writing too. Editors need hotel reviews and round-ups of great beaches. They like trends and news. I’ll touch on the basics of these “service” stories, too, but the bulk of the guide tries to go deeper. It revolves around how to find a good tale, how to pitch it and how to write it.
Everyone knows travel writing doesn’t pay so well, at least not in some form of an exchangeable currency. The cruel twist is that few travel writing assignments come with a budget big enough for you to even go do the story. We’ll go over some of the business aspects and the ethical questions you’ll encounter over funding, too. The juicy commissions that do come with a budget do exist but to land those you’ll need persistence. That’s beyond anything I can teach. Instead, I’d like to show you the building blocks you’ll need to give it a go in whatever capacity you’re up for. I promise it’ll be fun. Shall we begin?
WHAT MAKES A GOOD STORY ON TRAVEL BLOGGER ?
Think of the best travel stories you’ve read. Chances are high that you loved it because of how it spoke to you, how the language made you laugh and gasp, or how the author changed your feelings for a place. I can guarantee all of those articles involved action — people doing things, not on whims or out of boredom, but on purpose. Good stories happen because writers make them happen.
Think of it this way: Story is a verb.
To begin, it helps to have an idea for your story, of course, but to find the story in that idea you need to craft it. At its simplest a story strings together bits of action that move toward a goal across a setting using characters we want to see succeed. Let’s break the pieces down, starting with the most crucial component 99 percent of the time: the hook. We’ll look at characters and setting next.
Staying fresh and desirable
Hooks hit at the very raison d’être of an outlet that might run your story. That’s because the survival of the media depends on one thing really, and that is being current and therefore smart and desirable. Your stories need to help the media accomplish this, which means your ideas need a hook. A hook tells an editor that of all great places in the world to write about, this one is one story that’s happening now
The magic of the “-est”
The first is to look for exclusivity and superlatives, The only, the biggest, the least and the more interesting those superlatives are, the better.
Using pivot points
The second trick you can use to create a hook is to expand your thinking to search for pivot points happening now in the life of a place or, ideally, a character. You’ll then need examples to demonstrate what you say is happening, of course, and three seems to be the magic number.
In the end, your hook will claim only a handful of words from your final word count but they’re absolutely critical. Ask yourself, why should we do this story now? If you can’t answer that, your idea is just one in a million and it won’t get noticed.
“The subject may be old but the pivot point recasts it in a new light”
Characters and Tension
If story is a verb, then characters are the bearers of those verbs. They give readers a touchpoint from which they can explore whatever world you’re exploring. Their fates keep you reading. The best way to incorporate yourself into a story is to make the reader care about you or at least what happens to you. This cuts to the heart of your story’s narrative engine – the thing that keeps everyone reading. It’s called tension and without it you don’t have a story.
Setting affects mood
To do that, you need to expand your thinking of “place”. When we talk about setting we need to go beyond a geographic location and drill down into the emotional value a place can provide for the story, too. Places make us feel something and they do that by affecting our characters and the tone of their quests.
If characters carry the action, then settings — and how you describe and use them — can help enhance the mood behind those actions. The same holds true for your story as a whole because the words you give to settings contribute powerfully toward your overall tone
Setting as a hook
That’s one trick. Just like with characters, finding a pivot point in the area’s timeline that suggests a new era is about to begin is another. Places on the verge of a significant change make for dynamic settings, which can make for dynamic characters. Turning points like those often create a natural tension that’s great for your story, too. People either like the changes or they don’t