A Guide for Beginning Travel Writers - Like MeMonday, December 19, 2011Ryan Mach
Creating a travel blog is easy.
Yes, it is. There are lots of travel blogs out there offering various travel tips and sharing countless travel guides. Just Google them, you'll find heaps.
No, it's not. Anyone can create a travel blog, but with hundreds of travel blogs in the blogosphere, it's difficult to make yours stand out. You definitely don't want your travel blog to be just 'another travel blog', do you?
What makes a travel blog unique? Is it the design? The photos? Or the travel journal? Safest answer would be all of them. Each one contributes to the overall personality and voice of your blog. But the bread and butter of a good travel blog is the write-up. Readers are looking for helpful information. If your blog gives the readers what they want and makes them inspired and crave for more entries, then you can be sure that your stats will shoot up in no time.
Here are some of the tips that we, as a travel writer, can use to help our writing better, or let's say more like a travel writing instead of a diary. I'm guilty myself of some of the boring travel journals but then again, I'm an amateur travel writer wanna-be.
1. Craft stories like our experiences non-linearly.
We know it's so much easy to tell a story like a diary entry with a title like "How I Spent my Vacation in Boracay."
We boarded the plane at 8am. We left at 9. We arrived in the airport at 10. Blah blah blah.
Nothing seems wrong with this type of writing, except that it can be a painfully boring read. A mark of a good travel writer is his/her ability to write a compelling story without so much details. As a travel writer, we must learn to choose details that are relevant to our point and at the same time, relevant to the reader. These details may not necessarily be the same. The trick is to make the narrative interesting and write them non-linearly.
2. Stay away from mainstream adjectives or value judgments.
One of the tricks I learned from a writing workshop back in college is if you want your piece to be descriptive, try to use action words instead of adjectives. Example, to describe the heat, you can say something like this - 'The pavement sizzles under direct mid-day sun light.' Works better than 'The sun is sizzling hot' right?
Mainstream or flat adjectives can often value judgement which can make the piece ordinary. There are alternatives to commonly-used descriptions such as 'amazing, 'great' or 'perfect'.
3. It's not always the best.
'It's the best experience ever!' Sure, this statement can be catchy but if you declare each experience the most perfect and the best, isn't that a little over the top? The last thing we want is to make our experiences a hard-sell. Instead, we make our readers decide if the trip was really the best by creating a story that's fascinating and a little flawed.
I've read in a travel essay that it takes time to learn how to develop the right words to convey our experiences of a place in a voice that’s both faithful to our experience and true to our own voices. Taking that time, though, is critical to developing your craft as a writer, not just a travel writer.