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Publishing of Book:The Art and Craft of Creative Writing

Art-and-Craft-of-Creative-Writing_cover Thanks for visiting my blog for  the past four years. During that time, I’ve read and learned about the writing life, poetry, short fiction, and creative nonfiction. I have read many books, learned a great deal, and written a couple hundred craft essays. In January of this year, I decided to write a book based on what I have learned. And so from April until a couple of weeks ago, I wrote a how-to creative writing eBook. It is called “The Art and Craft of Creative Writing.” It is based on what I have learned. To purchase the book, visit http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00F4VOYRK

The book is more than 400 pages long and includes the following chapters chapters:

 Table of Content

  • About the Author 3
  • Introduction. 4
  • THE WRITING LIFE. 7
  • The Art and Craft of Writing. 8
  • The Writing Life: Journal Writing. 16
  • The Writing Life: Reading Like a Writer 19
  • The Writing Life: Learning to Write Creatively. 24
  • The Writing Life: Finding Inspiration to Write. 29
  • Ten Myths about Writing. 33
  • Writer’s Block. 36
  • The Writing Life: Developing Your Writing Voice. 39
  • Blogging as a Form of Creative Writing. 44
  • The Writing Process. 49
  • Writing the Opening. 54
  • Writing the Ending. 57
  • Revising Your Work. 60
  • WRITING FREE VERSE POETRY.. 65
  • Poetry: An Overview.. 66
  • Free Verse Poetry: An Overview.. 74
  • The Title of a Poem.. 80
  • Finding Inspiration and a Subject for Your Poem.. 83
  • Writing Free Verse: Stanza, Line, Syntax. 87
  • Writing Free Verse: Word Choice. 93
  • Writing Free Verse: Adding Sensory Details. 96
  • Writing Free Verse: Using Figurative Language. 100
  • Writing Free Verse: Adding Sound Effects. 104
  • Writing Free Verse: Meter and Rhythm.. 108
  • Writing the Prose Poem.. 113
  • Learning to Write Free Verse Poetry. 116
  • WRITING SHORT FICTION.. 123
  • Writing Short Fiction: An Overview.. 124
  • Writing Short Fiction: Creating the Setting. 130
  • Writing Short Fiction: The Plot 134
  • Writing Short Fiction: Character and Characterization. 139
  • Writing Short Fiction: Dialogue. 144
  • Writing Short Fiction: Point of View.. 148
  • Writing Short Fiction: The Theme. 152
  • Writing Short Fiction: Literary Techniques and Poetic Devices. 155
  • Writing Short Fiction: Voice and Writing Style. 161
  • Writing Short Fiction: Beginning and Ending. 166
  • How to Write a Short Story. 170
  • WRITING CREATIVE NONFICTION.. 176
  • Writing Creative Nonfiction: An Overview.. 177
  • The Ethics of Creative Nonfiction. 184
  • Writing Creative Nonfiction: Using Humour in Your Writing. 189
  • Writing Creative Nonfiction: The Personal Narrative Essay. 194
  • Writing Creative Nonfiction: The Opinion Essay. 202
  • Writing Creative Nonfiction: The Meditative Essay. 209
  • Writing Creative Nonfiction: The Lyrical Essay. 215
  • Writing Creative Nonfiction: The Segmented Essay. 219
  • Writing Creative Nonfiction: The Literary Journalism Essay. 224
  • The Literary Journalism Essay: On Popular Culture. 229
  • Writing Creative Nonfiction: Narrative History. 237
  • The Literary Journalism Essay: The Global Village. 243
  • Writing Creative Nonfiction: The Profile/Biography Sketch. 248

For anyone who desires to embrace the writing life, write free verse poetry, write short fiction, write creative nonfiction, such as the personal essays, and more, this book is for you. It is filled with advice, tips, suggestions, how-to explanations, and more. You can buy it at Amazon for $7.00. To purchase the book, visit:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00F4VOYRK I will not be making any more posts to this blog. It is time for another project. Good luck in your writing endeavors. Dave Hood,B.A.

The Writer’s Craft: How to Write an Ending

November 26, 2012

by Dave Hood

How do you end a poem, short story, novel, personal essay—or any other type of creative writing? Writing a good ending is as important as writing a compelling opening…You should give as much thought to your ending as your opening.” This is the advice William Zinsser shares in “On Writing Well.

There are many ways to end a piece of creative writing, such as with a relevant quotation, with a recommendation, with a call to action, by referring back to the beginning. Often the genre you are writing and the idea you are writing about will dictate how to end.

The ending should provide a sense of closure to your writing. To write an ending, you should know when to end and how to end a piece of writing. Different genres, such as a short story, personal essay, or poetry,  have different suggestions for writing an ending.

In this article, I’ll explain what an ending must accomplish and provide some general suggestions on how to end a narrative or poem.

What Must Your Ending Accomplish

In the “Handbook of Magazine Article Writing,” it is suggested that the ending of an article should do one of the following:

  • Leave  readers with the idea that they have learned something.
  • Leave readers with the idea that they have gained some insight.
  • Show  reader how the information in the article impacts or relates to their lives
  • Encourage readers to conduct research or additional investigation.

In “On Writing Well,” William Zinsser makes a few suggestions about ending a piece of creative nonfiction:

  • “When you are ready to stop, stop. In other words, don’t write too much.”
  • “The positive reason for ending well is that a good last sentence–or last paragraph, is a joy in itself. It gives the reader a lift, and it lingers when the article is over.”
  •  “What usually works best is a quotation.”

Zinsser also tells readers not to end by summarizing. For instance: “In summary…or “To conclude…”

Why? A summary is repeating yourself by compressing details that were already shared with the reader. Instead, you ought to make one final point that resonates in the mind of the reader.

When you end, you must have answered all questions posed in the story or article or personal essay. Otherwise, the reader is left wondering, and feels your writing is incomplete. As well, the essay or narrative should be brought to a close. In other words, the reader knows that the narrative is complete. For instance, if you are writing about a journey, the end might be when the character reaches his/her destination. If you are writing a meditative essay, you might leave the reader with some final point to ponder. If you are writing an opinion essay, you might end with a final point. Writer Elizabeth Anderson, in her essay “IF God is Dead, Is Everything Permitted?” (The Portable Atheist, selected and introduced by the late Christopher Hitchens), ends her essay with the following judgement: “The moralist argument, far from threatening atheism, is a critical wedge that should open morally sensitive theists to the evidence against the existence of God.”

A great ending, in my view, leaves the reader with something to ponder or meditate about after he puts down the piece of writing. Sometimes the writer shares an epiphany or a lesson learned or words of wisdom.

There are no rules on how to end a piece of creative writing, only suggestions. It is up to the writer to decide how to begin and how best to end a piece of writing. Your end should make some important final point. A good final point is like a knockout punch.

How to Write An Ending

There are several ways to end. It all depends on the genre.  A personal-narrative essay usually ends when the story ends, often with some epiphany. In a poem, the last line often makes some emphatic final point, some idea the writer can take away and ponder. In a short story or novel, the ending can be closed or open. In a closed ending, the story ends, and nothing else happens. In an open ending, the reader is left to imagine what might happen in the future. Trilogies end with an open ending. A popular technique for ending a story is to use a “cliff hanger.” Sometimes the writer ends a short story or novel ends with dialogue from the protagonist. Some writer’s end articles or personal essays or meditative essays by referring back to the beginning.  Other writers begin with a question, explore the question, then you can end with one final answer.  Many writer’s end with a final quotation.

Check out most literary journalism essays in the New Yorker, and you’ll discover that most writers end their writing with a final quotation from someone they’ve interviewed. In the essay, “Slackers” (July 30th, 2012),  writer, Malcolm Gladwell, ends with the following quote: “None of the doctors who treated me, and none of the experts I’ve consulted since the day I collapsed, have ever heard of anybody being gone for than long and coming back to full health,” he writes.” He was back on the track nine days later.” Clearly, there are many methods you can use to end a piece of creative writing. The decision is yours to make. It is a creative choice of the writer.

David Remnick, author of “We Are Alive”, ends with the following quote: Springsteen glanced at the step and stepped into the spotlight. “Hola, Barcelona!” he cried out to a sea of forty-five thousand people. “Hola, Catalunya!”

 You often read true and fictional stories about a calamity or disaster. The writer opens the story by describing a setting of normalcy. And then, the bomb is dropped, or the hurricane destroys the quiet life of the living, or the earthquake obliterates a town. The writer describes the cause and effects, and the struggles to survive and cleanup. In this sort of narrative, writers often end by “returning to the state of normalcy.”

 Some writers end with a telling anecdote, or by pointing to what will happen next in the story, or tell readers where to find additional information. Other writers end with an epilogue, which tells what happens to the characters later and how their stories continue.

Other ways to end a piece of creative writing include:

  • With a judgement
  • With recommendation
  • With a prediction
  • With an insight
  • With a hope or wish

There are no rules for ending a piece of writing, only suggestions. And every form of writing–whether a personal essay, poem, short story, article—has its own suggestions for ending. The final decision about how to end a piece of writing is the writer’s. It is one of the creative decisions of writing. Often the writer relies on a “gut feeling” or “intuition” or “sixth sense.” The worst thing a writer can do is overwrite or write a double ending. The best way to end is to leave your reader satisfied while giving the reader a sense of closure. William Zinsser writes, “The perfect ending should take your readers slightly by surprise and seem exactly right.”

Resources

  • On Writing Well by William Zinsser
  • The Story Within: New Insights and Inspirations for Writers by Laura Oliver
  • The Elements of Story: Field Notes on Nonfiction by Francis Flaherty
  • Handbook of Magazine Article Writing, edited by Michelle Ruberg and Ben Yagoda
  • The New Yorker, “Slackers: Alberto Salazar and the Art of Exhaustion” by Malcolm Gladwell (July 30, 2012)

The Writer’s Life: Establishing a Writing Routine

Wednesday, October-31-12

by Dave Hood

Most great writer’s have a routine. That is what I’ve learned by reading Margaret Atwood’s “Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing,” Steven King’s “On Writing: A Memoir on Craft,” and Elizabeth Berg’s “Escaping into the Open: The Art of Writing True.”

Writer Elizabeth Berg suggests that your writing routine should be “as personal and as varied” as your routines for anything else.

If your lifestyle changes, so will your writing routine. If you are a student at university, taking courses in creative writing, you’ll probably have lots of time to read and write. But, if you are working full-time, and attempting to write a novel, or short story, you’ll have to do it in your leisure time, perhaps at night or on the weekend.

Berg suggests that you begin your writing day by reading the writing you completed yesterday, and then edit it before writing something new. Why? The break from writing will provide you with fresh insight and a new perspective, perhaps even some new material.

Other writers suggest that you complete the first draft before beginning any sort of editing. Why? Editing can slow down the process of putting words from your mind on the page. Editing can also stifle the creative spirit. I always write the first draft before editing. And I always take a break for a few days before revising my work. The break allows me to discover new material and see my work from a fresh perspective.

Berg also suggests that when you are completing a writing project, continue to read unrelated material, such as other books, magazines, poetry, newspapers,  to help you continually fill your creative spirit with new ideas.

How long should you write for? Berg writes for three or four hours in the morning, and then stops. Other writer’s do the same. Most writers don’t write for long stretches of time, such as 9,10,11 hours. Why? Their mind gets tired, they are unable to think  clearly, they are unable to dust off authentic and original ideas from memory or their imagination. They are unable to write at their best with specific details, fresh similes, surprising metaphors.

As part of the routine, you should also write in a quiet  and inspirational place, some location that allows you to think. Some writers set up a writing room. In their writing room, there is a desk, chair, bookcase of favorite books, a dictionary, thesaurus, perhaps some quiet music on the stereo, art on the walls, and photographs perched on the desk.  Other writes craft a piece of writing in their bedroom, lying in bed. Many writers carve out something in a quiet cafe, where there’s the hustle and bustle of people, and soothing music.

Part of your routine also requires that you choose the “writing tools” that inspire you and allow you to quickly express your thoughts on the page, including a pen or coloured pens. A notebook. A writing Journal. A computer, such as tablet or laptop. Most creative writing instructors tell you to keep a writing journal, and write in it each day with a pen or a set of coloured pens. Most writers will also tell you to carry a notebook, so that when an interesting idea pops into your mind, you can capture it.

To write a poem, short story, novel, article, anything well, you require discipline. To be disciplined, you need a routine.  Some writers like to write in the morning, other writers like to write at night when it’s dark. Many writers are only able to write in their leisure time, such as on the weekend, when they don’t have to work at their 9 to 5 day job.

If you truly want to become a good writer and publish, you must have discipline. Discipline requires that you make writing a high priority. And so, if you are a person who writes a “To-do-list” each day, you should make writing your number 1 priority, or very close to the top of your list of things to do. As well, instead of writing when you feel like it, you must establish a schedule and write at specific time of day. This helps to establish a routine. If you do not have time to write, you must find time. For instance, you could write for 15 minutes on your lunch, write for 15 minutes on your coffee break, writer while you ride the bus home from work… Discipline as a writer requires that you organize your life around your writing.

The act of writing makes you a writer. Writing requires that you do it regularly. Establishing a routine is the best way to write each day or on some schedule. Establishing a routine enables you to learn to write, to experiment with your writing, to become a writer, to write creatively like Hemingway, Alice Munro, Stephen King. Establishing a writing routine allows you to complete projects and to publish your writing dreams, rather than leave your writing aspirations to chance.

If you’d like to learn more about the writing life, I recommend that you read:

  • Margaret Atwood’s “Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing”
  • Steven King’s “On Writing: A Memoir on Craft”
  • Elizabeth Berg’s “Escaping into the Open: The Art of Writing True.”

Each of these books is an entertaining read and provides insight into the writing life, as well as great advice on the art and craft of writing.

Writing Creative Nonfiction: Beginning and Ending

By Dave Hood

The most important sentence is often the first one. It is often called the hook or lead.  If it doesn’t inspire the reader to proceed to the second sentence, and then the third….your personal essay, or memoir, or any other form of creative writing is dead. That is what William Zinsser tells us in “On Writing Well”, a how-to guide for writing creative nonfiction.

Your opening must capture the reader’s attention and motivate them to read your entire piece of writing. You do this by writing a compelling lead, opening, or entry point.

There are many ways to create an entry point, or lead, or beginning for a piece of creative nonfiction. One way is to just begin “telling the story.” Sometimes writers begin with a “quotation” or “interesting fact.” Another way is to ask a question. For instance: More than 20 million people have purchased Fifty Shades of Gray. What does this suggest about women?

And once you’ve written your piece of creative nonfiction, you must end with a bang.  Otherwise, the reader is inclined to be disappointed. The lousy ending is like a film that ends poorly. And so, you’ll want to end with a one final point, which the reader can take away and ponder.

In this article, I’ll discuss the following:

  • How to write an opening or lead or entry point into a story
  • How to end a piece of creative nonfiction

Writing an Opening

As mentioned in the introduction, there are many ways to begin writing a piece of creative nonfiction. Some writers begin by telling a story. That’s what Malcolm Gladwell did when he wrote “Slackers” for the New Yorker magazine. (July 30th, 2012)

William Zinsser, author of the splendid writing-advice book, “On Writing Well”, identifies a few other ways. You can begin with:

  • A question
  • A quotation
  • A fascinating fact
  • An Anecdote

Laurie Oliver, author of the how-to book, “The Story Within,”  identifies many other ways to begin:

  • With a list
  • With a memory
  • With a scene
  • With a reminiscence
  • With a reflection
  • With an assertion
  • With a diagnosis
  • With a general statement

One of the simplest ways to begin is by asking a question. For instance, what made Andy Warhol a fascinating artist? What was his contribution to the world of art?

Another easy way to begin is with a list. For example, here are the reasons why I write…

Another is to begin with a quotation. For instance, “Patience is the companion of wisdom.”—St. Augustine.

An interesting fact can also introduce a good piece of creative writing. Writer David Remnick, the author of the profile “We Are Alive: Bruce Springsteen at Sixty-Two” (July 30th, 2012) begins with an interesting fact:

Nearly half a century ago, when Elvis Presley was filming “Harum Scarum and “Help!” was on the charts, a moody, father-haunted, yet uncannily charismatic Shore rat named Bruce Springsteen was building a small reputation around New Jersey as a guitar player in a band called the Castiles.

Usually, the form of creative nonfiction you are sitting down to write will define the how to begin. For instance, a personal-narrative essay will usually begin at the beginning of the story. A meditative essay often begins with a question. For instance, What is the meaning of life? A travel essay can begin with a memorable scene. A literary journalism essay often begins with an interesting fact, generalization, assertion.

Writing the Ending

Writing a good ending is as important as writing a compelling opening. You need to know when to end and how to end a story. You should give as much thought to your ending as your opening. That is what William Zinsser tells us. There are several ways to end. The personal narrative usually ends when the story ends, often with some epiphany. Some writer’s end by referring back to the beginning of the story.  If your entry point into the essay is a question, then you can end with one final answer. Many writer’s end with a final quote.

In the essay, “Slackers” by Malcolm Gladwell, he ends with the following quote: “None of the doctors who treated me, and none of the experts I’ve consulted since the day I collapsed, have ever heard of anybody being gone for than long and coming back to full health,” he writes. He was back on the track nine days later.

David Remnick, author of “We Are Alive”, ends with the following quote: Springsteen glanced at the step and stepped into the spotlight. “Hola, Barcelona!” he cried out to a sea of forty-five thousand people. “Hola, Catalunya!”

Other ways to end are to make a judgement or recommendation or share an insight.

In “On Writing Well,” William Zinsser makes a few suggestions about ending a piece of creative nonfiction:

  1. “When you are ready to stop, stop. In other words, don’t write too much.”
  2. “The positive reason for ending well is that a good last sentence–or last paragraph, is a joy in itself. It gives the reader a lift, and it lingers when the article is over.”
  3. “The perfect ending should take the reader slightly by surprise.”
  4. “What usually works best is a quotation.”

Zinsser also tells us not to end by summarizing. For instance: “In summary…or “To conclude…”

Why? A summary is repeating yourself by compressing details that were already shared with the reader. Instead, you ought to make one final point that resonates in the mind of the reader.

There are no rules on how to end, only suggestions. It is up to the writer to decide how to begin and how best to end a piece of writing. Whatever methods you choose, be sure to capture your reader’s attention when you begin. A good beginning draws your readers into the writing like a magnet.  And end your work with some important final point. A good final point is like a knockout punch.

Resources

  • On Writing Well by William Zinsser
  • The Story Within: New Insights and Inspirations for Writers by Laura Oliver
  • The Elements of Story: Field Notes on Nonfiction by Francis Flaherty

Creative Nonfiction: Writing about Place

By Dave Hood

Why write about place or include setting in a piece of creative nonfiction writing? There are several reasons:  Setting or place creates a backdrop for your true story. It can also create a mood or atmosphere for the story. Sometimes, place can be an antagonist for the story. It provides context—-telling the reader where the story takes place.

As well, one of the most important techniques for  creative writing is to write in scenes. A scene in creative nonfiction is like a scene from a film. The scene includes vivid descriptions, dialogue, action, and a setting. The setting identifies the place where the scene and true story takes place.

Place is also part of our genetic  code. Most people seek the comfort and familiarity of a safe place.

And yet, according to Brenda Miller and Susanne Paola, who are the authors of the marvelous text ‘ Tell It Slant: Creating, Refining, and Publishing Creative Nonfiction’, those who write writer creative nonfiction often overlook writing about the place where the story takes place.

In this article, I’ll explain what types of places you can write about and how to write about them.

Ask the Right Questions

So, let’s get started. How do you begin to write about place? You begin by to asking a few important questions, and then you answering them. Here are the questions you can writea about:

  • What does the place represent?
  • What is the symbolism of the place?
  • What is the significance for you?
  • What are the physical characteristics of the place? What does it look like? Describe the place?
  • What memories are evoked by a particular place?
  • How do you feel about the place? Do you like it? Why or why not?

You can begin by look around you. Describe the interior and exterior of the place that is your home, your neighborhood, your town, or city.  In other words, write about the physical attributes or characteristics of the place. What are the associations? For instance, the house where I am smells disgusting like an ash tray filled with cigarettes…Or I live in a house that’s like a prison where my spouse gives orders as if she’s the warden. My elderly mother sits in her chair sadly reminiscing about the past like a person grieving the death of a loved one.

Showing Readers the Place

When writing about place, you must show the reader. What does this mean? Showing the reader requires you to write vivid descriptions, use sensory imagery, deploy memorable similes and metaphors  to describe a particular place. It is not about telling the reader about the place, which is nothing more than a summary of the facts as you see them.

So, you show readers a place by  including concrete and specific details. You can also include vivid descriptions that are of significance . You don’t have to include all the details or descriptions–only those that have significance to yourself and your readers.  To write descriptions of place, you can also use sensory imagery, language that appeal to the sense of smell, taste, sight, touch, and hearing.

Writing with similes and metaphor will also create an entertaining description of place. For instance, the house looked like the city dump…. the shadows of the skyscrapers ….

Places to Write About

What places can you write about? There are several.

Home

Write about Home, the place called home. What is home to you? What are your memories of home? Life as a child growing up. Your life now. What did you celebrate? What holidays you took? What milestones or turning points were experienced in a particular place? Describe the physical characteristics, the mental associations, significance, meaning, and your feelings  about place.

City Life or Rural Life

Write about city life. What do you like about living in the city? What do you dislike? Describe using simile, metaphor, vivid descriptions.

Write about rural life, such as a small town. What do you like about living in a small town? What do you dislike? Describe using simile, metaphor, vivid descriptions. Include the significant physical attributes of the place.

Nature

Write about nature, such as the wild life, woods, rivers, mountains, birds, animals,fish, insects, other mammals of the habitat. Describe the physical characteristics, the mental associations, significance, meaning, and your feelings  about place. Observe nature, react to it, write about it. Does it transform you in any way? Write using personification to make the nonhuman personal, recognizable, understandable.

Place of Work

Write about the place where you work. Describe its physical characteristics. Describe it in terms of sensory imagery, simile, metaphor, and particular and significant details. What are your feelings about the workplace? What do you like or dislike about your workplace? What does it represent? A paycheque, your purpose in life, your meaning to live. Or is the place of work just a means to an end, the end being leisure time or the time to follow your bliss.

Travel

Write about travel, such as a trip, quest, pilgrimage, or journey. What places have you travelled to?  Describe the physical characteristics, the mental associations, significance, meaning, and your feelings  about place. Don’t  write as though you are creating a travel brochure, transcribing your trip. This is cliché. Include specific details and the significance to you. According to Tell IT Slant, “Successful travel writing mediates between two poles: the individual physical things it describes, on the other hand, the larger theme “about” on the other. That is the particular and the universal.”

The Environment

Write about the environment, which is a popular topic–air and water pollution, global warming, overpopulation, desertification, destruction of the natural habitat. How does the environment in which you live impact your mind, body, soul? Write about the issues or topics making news. Write about green peace . Write about the role of an environmentalist. Write about the how the government protects a particular place, such as the forest, sea, historic place. Write about how industrialization continues to erode place.

Witness to the World

You are a human being, living in a particular place within the larger global village. Look out to the world, beyond the world in which you live. What do you see, hear, smell, taste about the world? What is making news in the world related to place? Write about it. What are the topics on the minds of the collective consciousness related to place? Write about them. How has the place called the global village been changed or transformed? Write about technology and its impact on place–the smart phone, Internet, tablet, and so forth.

Other Things to Consider

You can also write about place in terms of its culture, language, cuisine, people, customs and traditions, religion, superstitions, norms, rituals, taboos, moral values, and the history of place.

To conclude, there are many places to write about. When you write about place, show the reader with vivid descriptions, physical details, imagery, simile, metaphors. Also include your own perspective of place–your thoughts feelings, likes and dislikes. Always ask important questions about a particular place: What is the meaning of place? What is the significance? What does the place represent to you? Share your answers with the reader. And remember: we all seek places of meaning, comfort, familiarity. But many of us are also curious–and want to explore the world beyond. 

Resources

  • Tell it Slant: Creating, Refining, and Publishing Creative Nonfiction by Brenda Miller and Suzanne Paola
  • Telling True Stories, edited by Mark Kramer and Wendy Call
  • Creative Nonfiction: A Guide to Form, Content, and Style by Eileen Pollack

Writing Travel Articles

In this post, I provide some suggestions on how to write a travel article. The following will be discussed:

  • Purpose of writing the travel article
  • Suggestions for writing a good travel article
  • Voice, tone, structure
  • Writing style for the travel article
  • A few tips on writing travel articles

What is the Purpose of Writing a Travel Article?

Your main purpose is to share your travel experiences. But this is not the only purpose. Your purpose is also to write a travel article that entertains and informs your readers. As well, you want to be able to transport the reader to the destination you have visited. Your purpose might also be to convince your readers to take a trip to the destination you are writing about. Your purpose will, in part, depend on the type of travel article you are writing.

What Makes for a Good Travel Article?

It has a theme or main idea. Perhaps you are writing about a golf trip, kayaking trip, or bike trip. Your article needs a theme.

A good travel article has a lead and ending. The lead captures the attention of the reader and encourages him/her to read your article. The ending makes a main point. It leaves the reader with one final quote, fact, impression to think about.

Include impressions, experiences, and commentary that support the theme of your article.

A good travel article tells a story about the trip. he story needs to relate to the travel theme. It needs to be interesting.

A good travel article includes factual information about the history, culture, geography, cuisine, language, and so forth. But these facts must relate to the story and theme of your travel article. These facts also need to be original. Omit information that is widely known.

Use the technique of scene-building. A good scene includes vivid descriptions of the place. It includes dialogue. It also includes action. You can reveal action through the use of anecdotes or storytelling.

Use sensory language. Describe the smells, tastes, sounds, and sights.

Use a light tone. One way to do this is by using humour. You might include irony or humorous experience.

Show, don’t tell your reader what happened or what you experienced. You can show your reader by using dialogue, vivid descriptions of the setting, and by describing the action of the experience.

For good examples of how good travel stories are written, visit www.worldhum.com or www.traveler.nationalgeographic.com .

Telling Your Travel Story

Create a visual postcard of the place. Show the reader what happened, don’t tell them. Use sensory language and vivid descriptions. While you are doing this, narrate your story, mix commentary, provide facts and impressions. Your details will tell your readers what the place looks like, the culture and language, how people live, and the mood of the place. The elements you include in your story will depend on the type of travel article you are writing. The facts you include should relate to your story and support it.

Writing Voice

Don’t write using the first person “I.” You aren’t writing a first-person travelogue, which is a chronological report of what you did on the trip. You are writing a travel story using an authoritative voice. You are telling the story as a narrator, describing your experiences and providing your impressions. Therefore, you will write using the second-person “you” or the third-person “he/she.” Narrate your story as if you are talking to a friend.

While narrating the story, you can use the devices of concrete and specific language, imagery, vivid details, similes and metaphors. You can use sentence variety, action verbs, and the active voice. You can use the fiction technique of “showing, not telling” the reader what happened on the trip.

Tone

The tone of your article refers to the attitude you have about the people, destination, and your readers. You need to be respectful of the people you write about. You also need to write honestly about the destination. If you had a bad experience that would be important and relevant to your readers, you might want to write about it. Share what you liked or enjoyed and what you disliked.

Structure

A good travel article has a structure. It begins with a lead that grabs the reader’s attention and concludes with an ending that leaves the reader with an important point. In the body, you shares details about the experience or event that takes place on the trip. The structure also includes these elements:

  • Where-Vivid description of the place
  • When- Season in which the trip takes place
  • Who- the writer is introduced
  • Why-the reason for the trip
  • How- the writer reveals his mode of travel
  • What-the writer uses storytelling, anecdotes, facts, quotations to write the travel article.

Writing Style

There are several books available that show you the best writing style to use for writing a travel article, including:

  • On Writing Well by William Zinsser
  • The Elements of Style by Strunk and White
  • The Chicago Manual of Style.

Read these reference books and master the rules and guidelines. Then incorporate them into your writing.

A Few Tips on Writing Travel Articles

Here are a few suggestions that will help you get started writing travel articles:

  1. Take a course on travel writing.
  2. Read travel books and magazines and articles on travel writing, and then analyze how they are written.
  3. Write a lot. You will only become a good writer if you write each day.
  4. Don’t quit your day job. Very few writer’s support themselves on the earnings from their travel writing.
  5. Learn to write well. You won’t get published unless you know how to write. So, master the rules and guidelines of The Elements of Style by Strunk and White, The Chicago Manual of Style, and On Writing Well.
  6. Research your trip. Before you take the trip, learn about the history, culture, customs, language, religion, and so forth of the destination.
  7. Travel a lot. The best way to write about a destination is to immerse yourself in the culture and way of life. To do this, you need to visit the destination you are writing about.
  8. Research travel writing on the Web. A good place to start is www.worldhum.com .

Getting the Facts for Your Travel Article

People read travel articles for many reasons. Some want to get ideas on where to travel. Others want to learn about the world. Many want to be entertained. Whatever the reason, the reader wants useful facts about the destination. A good travel article includes the writer’s impressions and observations and interesting facts culled from up-to-date research resources, such as the Web or travel guidebook.

In this article, I will discuss how to find facts for your article, how to complete fact checking, and how to add factual details to your travel article. As well, I will provide a list of travel writing resources that you can use to find more information on travel writing.

Discovering Facts

Before you begin writing travel articles, the first thing you need to do is build a travel resource library. You can do this by collecting interesting travel articles, brochures, travel books, travel magazines, or anything else that might be helpful in researching your a trip or writing a travel article that you plan to write.

Prior to traveling to the destination spot, you should conduct pre-trip research. You can begin by checking your personal travel library for useful facts. A second place to check is the Web. It has countless Websites on the place you want to visit, each offering information that could be useful.

Next, contact the travel office near you to obtain maps, guidebooks, and information about hotels, restaurants, rental cars, and so forth. Read magazines and books on the place you are going to visit, to learn about the geography, history, culture, language, customs, cuisine, traditions, and religion.

While you are traveling, you should also collect facts. Start by obtaining guidebooks, maps, newspapers, post cards of the destination. Take photographs of the sites you visit. Bring your laptop to conduct research on the Web from your hotel room.

You should also record facts in your writing journal. Include descriptions, dialogue, contact information, and so forth. Include your impressions and observations. Take your travel journal wherever you go. It will become your most important resource.

Fact Checking

Every business card, email address, phone call is a potential contact for fact checking. The Web can also be a good source for fact checking. Be sure that the content on the travel website is up to date. Visit the library and consult with a librarian about the facts you are going to use in your article. Contact the local travel and tourism government office.

Including Facts in Your Travel Article

In all likelihood, there have been numerous travel articles written about the destination you are visiting. Therefore, one of your goals is to present the facts in a new way. Be sure to check the Web to see what has been written. Another goal is provide new facts about the destination. A third objective is to combine these facts and personal experience into a storytelling experience. Nobody wants to read a travel article riddled with just facts. That is the purpose of the travel guide. Instead tell the writer about an interesting experience you had while travelling, and weave factual information into the story. Or include a couple of problems you encountered while travelling, and weave a few interesting facts into your story. A good travel article includes the writer’s personal experience and a few interesting, relevant facts about the destination.

Useful Resources for Travel Writers

Here are a few of the most popular instructional guides for travel writers:

  • L. Peat O’Neil, Travel Writing: A Guide to Research, Writing Selling, 2nd ed., Writer’s Digest Books, 2005. ISBN 978-1582973814.
  • Don George, Travel Writing, Lonely Planet, 2005. ISBN 978-0864427427.
  • Louise Purwin Sobel and Jacqueline Harmon Butler, The Travel Writer’s Handbook: How to Write—and Sell—Your Own Travel Experiences, 6th ed., Surrey Books, 2006. ISBN 978-1572840843.
  • Cynthia Dial, Teach Yourself Travel Writing, 2nd ed., McGraw-Hill, 2006. ISBN 978-0071478816.
  • Gordon Burgett, Travel Writer’s Guide, 3rd rev. ed., Communication Unlimited, 2002. ISBN 978-0970862112.

Websites

Here are a few useful websites that can help you write your travel article:

 

Magazines

Here are a few useful travel magazines that you can read:

 In the next article, I will explain how to write a travel article.