Monday, 22 February 2010

A travel writing class... continued

There we are, 25 minutes into the two hours, we're underway in this substitute creative writing class with travel writing the subject (see last week's blog). Students now have ideas buzzing round in their heads and I feel well comfortable and focussed. Time for the lecture part, and here's the gist of it.

It's important to think about where or to whom you are writing about your travels. Different outlets have different styles, and different lengths, so this affects what and how you might write. For example, I looked at the weekend's newspaper supplements and found these...

... and I read out the openings of 3 or 4 travel articles which were first person, lively, involving. Here is just one example,
When I found myself in a canoe on a huge wilderness lake in Prince Albert National Park, Northern Saskatchewan, sweating and swearing, neck and back stiff with pain, I blamed Richard Attenborough. I never would have known about Grey Owl if he had not resurrected one of his
childhood heroes and made a film about him. (Actually this is an article of a few years ago, by my friend Cathy Smith, whose travel writing how-to book I will talk about later in this blog.)

So you can see that what newspapers and magazines mainly want are a narrative style and the writer's personal experience... the more fun, or amazing, or different or even painful, the better. These pieces are often 800-900 words, sometimes up to 1200... (you need to do a rough count if this will be your target). The length, of course, affects how much of the adventure you can fit in.

Still sticking with the newspapers I moved on to another kind of article opening, the factual. Here is one example of several beginnings I read out:

The Romans invaded Britain in AD 43. It took thousands of soldiers six years to build Hadrian's Wall and the purpose was to mark the boundaries of the great Roman Empire. (Cathy again; walking Hadrian's Wall is the subject of the piece.)

Besides history, geography or mythology, statistics or cultural facts etc can make intriguing openings.

Moving on from print media to cyberspace, I spoke only about one outlet I personally know -- but there must be loads out there: up 2 u to find!! But have a look at Suite 101 which will take you right to Cathy Smith's list of articles... it's a huge site covering lots of subjects and it does pay contributing writers (pennies per click though, you won't get rich this way... )

Point to note with Suite 101 or any online writing is that pieces must be short -- like 350 words. So they tend to be pithy... not so experiential. A bit less fun to write?

Another kind of travel writing is the service piece -- online and in print -- which might be a round-up of ski resorts or city visits or B&Bs in a region etc. Or articles about travelling and the travel business. These are usually written by travel journalists, not worth trying for at this stage.

BUT OF COURSE there is the thought of your own blog! My cousin Lyn in Australia publishes her gorgeous world travel photos and 'journal' in a blog... lots of people do. And here, the personal experience narration will make your blog an involving, exciting -- as well as informative -- read.

So, back to our writing, and my assumption that you want to have fun writing and sharing your travel experience(s), which we will soon be doing. But first we need to take a moment to think about that word experiential, which means thinking about the senses. I am going to take you through a series of questions to loosen up the soil and help you to get WRITING WITH THE 8 SENSES.

ahhh... but this 10 minute marketing lecture is long enough for one blog entry; senses to be continued in 2 weeks, when I return from my travels -- to The Big Apple and to North Yorkshire.

1 comment:

marry said...
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