As I mentioned last week, while I was at the Writers’ Holiday in Fishguard, I did Solange Hando’s Travel writing course, so I thought this week I’d pass on some of her top travel tips. (You can read more about Solange and her travels on her blog at: http://solangehando.blogspot.co.uk )
1. Travel is about people and places. It’s not just about a destination, but what people can do there, what the customs and traditions are of the people who live there, and the way they live their lives. So put people into your travel pieces, not just the places.
2. When you write an introduction, think detail. Be positive. Describe a scene, or draw upon anecdote. What this does is it quickly draws your reader into your piece. A scene or anecdote gives your piece life. There is something happening, if you describe the way a member of the waiting staff is flirting with you, or if someone is having an argument with a local and neither can understand each other’s language.
3. Don’t start your travel article at the start of your trip. Do that, and it becomes what I call a WIDOMH (What I Did On My Holidays) piece. Start with something exciting. Focus on one small part of your trip. If you’re going to write about the afternoon you spent scuba diving in the Red Sea at the end of your holiday, begin with jumping into the water, all kitted out, not arriving at the airport all ready for a fab fortnight away.
4. Analyse your target market and use the terms they use. So do they say ‘kids’ or ‘children’? Do they refer to ‘husbands and wives’ or ‘partners’? Copy what you see - so if the magazine prefers the use of the word ‘partner’ then use it, even if you’re happily married!
5. Work out what your word count needs to be, then deduct 100 words for the introduction, 100 words for the conclusion, and divide the rest by the number of points you want to make. So, if you have 1,000 words, Solange would knock off 200 (100 each for intro and conclusion) leaving her 800 words to play with. If she wanted to focus on four key points about a place, she’d know she had 200 words available for each point.
6. Maximise your trip. Don’t write one article about your trip, write six pieces about different aspects of each trip. Think of as many different markets as you can to approach, and pitch your ideas. And don’t give up until you pitched an idea to at least 100 different markets! (I think she was being a little harsh here, but her point is a valid one. Keep pitching because an editor will be interested someday!)