Travel Writing Do’s and Don’ts

You say you took a great trip, and now you want to write about it?  Good for you!  That’s one of my favorite types of writing.  May I offer some Do’s and Don’ts I’ve learned from experience?

DO:

  • …use short words, short sentences, and short paragraphs.
  • …focus on what in your trip was interesting and different.
  • …keep all your senses open for things that will bring your readers along on your trip with you.  Things such as the aroma of Indian curry cooking, the sound of peacocks calling in the early morning, the taste of a fresh mango pulled from a tree.
  • …feel free to include interesting historical tidbits about the place. But be certain those facts are accurate. A detail may seem small and unimportant to you, but someone will know.
  • …read your writing over aloud.  Ask yourself, “If I hadn’t been there, would this writing make me want to go?”

DON’T:

  • …write in the first person.  Readers aren’t really interested in your thoughts and feelings.  They want to be carried away on their own vicarious trip.
  • …state the obvious.  If the waves roll up on the sand… if the rain soaks the ground… if the flowers bloom–guess what?  That’s what waves and rain and flowers do!
  • …use clichés. Hawaii is a paradise. You can read the residents like a book. India is a fabled land.
  • …overuse adjectives: an awesomely wondrous trip, an exhaustingly straight-up climb into the clouds, a fearsomely ferocious bear of an animal.
  • …try to impress your readers with your amazing vocabulary.  The waiter was audaciously impudent, impertinent and insolent.

One more DO:  Get started on your travel piece.  Armchair travelers are waiting!

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”

~St. Augustine”

 

 

About kaystrom

Kay Marshall Strom, who am I? Well, I’m a traveler, a railer against social injustice, a passionate citizen of the world. I’m a follower of Jesus Christ. I’m a 21st century abolitionist who speaks out against slavery of all kinds. I am a beach walker and a gardener and the off-key singer of songs. I’m a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend. Most people, though, know me as a writer and a speaker. So here is a bit more about that part of my life: Of my 43 published books, eight have been book club selections, seventeen have been translated into foreign languages, and two have been optioned for movies. My writing credits include numerous magazine articles, books for children, short stories, television scripts and two prize-winning screenplays. Along with my husband Dan, I also have produced a series of booklets for writers. My writing has appeared in a number of volumes including three versions of the NIV Devotional Bible and the devotional book My Heart, Christ’s Home, Through the Year. I love to write, and I love to share about topics close to my heart. I speak at seminars, retreats, writer’s conferences, and special events throughout the country. And because I do enjoy travel, I even speak on cruise ships! More and more my writing and speaking are drawing me to countries and cultures around the world. Because I don’t see how a writer can really reflect another people and land without spending time there, I’ve been trekking through India, China, Indonesia, Cambodia, Sudan, Senegal, Morocco, Tunisia, and Egypt, tape recorder and camera in hand, to gather stories from the world-wide family of God and to speak on their behalf. I’ve traveled to the hard places of the world to tell “the rest of the story” of our donor dollars at work. Thanks to my “virtual friendship” with 17th century John Newton, slave ship captain turned preacher, I traveled through Ireland with the preview team of the movie Amazing Grace (John wrote the hymn). I recently spoke in Japan and South Korea, and my husband Dan and I taught writing classes in India. And, oh, how thankful I am for every bit of it! I went to West Africa to work on a non-fiction book, but when I toured an old slave fortress off the coast and saw a tiny set of baby manacles bolted to the wall, I was struck dumb. All I could think was: “How could good, God-fearing people ever get to the place where they think that is okay?” From that horror came a story question, and from that question, my foray into fiction: The Grace in Africa trilogy. My seven trips to India led to the Blessings in India fiction trilogy. Come join me as I travel and rail against injustice. Join me as I walk along the beach, or work in the garden, or warble a tune. Be my friend. Maybe you will choose to also be a 21st century abolitionist.
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