Armchair travelers enjoy sinking into a comfy couch to read about places they’ve never visited. Your job is to immerse them in that world.
1. Make an outline before you start writing to see how various aspects of your story can relate and flow engagingly.
2. Develop an exciting narrative—dialogue with someone other than your spouse. Talk to the locals. How else will you learn about the place? On the subject of family members, unless they’re pertinent to the tale, we don’t want to hear about them. We don’t.
3. Seek to entertain and educate your reader in a light, breezy way. Most places have been written about before, so find a fresh angle, something original that will grab a reader’s attention. Show. Don’t tell: Lose the adverbs and flowery descriptions. Choose the perfect verb instead.
4. If you can’t afford to travel, write about new activities in your local area. Become a travel expert in your city. Does it have any unusual landmarks, remarkable museums, or attractions? How about festivals? Take notes, ask questions, get quotes, and jot down specificities. If you want to stand out, become an expert on something you’re passionate about, even if it’s finding bags and comparing prices. Details, darlings, details!
5. Avoid clichés like the plague! Lose the “best-kept secrets,” “city of contrasts,” and “unspoiled gems.” Stop, already. Try some originality. Lose the unremitting good cheer, especially if it’s not true. Add historical or political context. Seek experiences beyond the realm of the average tourist, go beneath the surface, and interpret what you find.
6. Paint with words: Take the reader on an armchair journey. Include sensory details. What did the place look like? Feel like? Smell like? Taste like? Remind you of? Be more realistic. Otherwise, get into Pee Aar.
7. Read, read, read: Rinse and repeat. Only good reading can make you a better writer. You will never develop a voice and style without reading. Develop and analyze 25 of your favorite travel writers. What makes them so readable?
8. Write, write, write: You have to write even when – especially when – you don’t feel like it. Don’t give up. Successful writers stuck it out, writing and learning as they went along.
9. End with a punch or at least ensure the ending captures the story’s point. Don’t you dare say you can’t wait to return wherever you went? It’s been done to death.
10. When your piece is finished, read it out loud. Seriously. You’ll surprise yourself. It’s also a great way to find your “voice.”
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