Travel Writing Tips by Jennifer Stewar

As the baby boomers hit retirement, the travel industry is set to explode. Why not take advantage of this interest by writing about your travels? Here are some of the things to avoid in travel writing and some of the things to include.

Don't

* Use cliches. Editor of The Australian Way, the QANTAS inflight magazine, Tom Brentnall comments: "A pearl is found in an oyster. There is only one Mecca, the birthplace of Mohammed, in Saudi Arabia - it is not some trendy retail strip of designer clothing stores." (Ouch! How many writers have been guilty of this one?) Brentnall continues, "Paradise is where you go when you die (it is not five minutes from an airport) and a magnet relates to electrical polarity."
* Overdo the adjectives. Words you wouldn't dream of using in conversation, often appear in travel writing: "fabled, wondrous, roseate."
* Go silly with personification. Do buildings ever really smile; do ruins beckon at every turn; do chimney tops sing their welcome? I don't think so.
* Use the first person. Fascinating as your reactions might be to your immediate family, the rest of the world frankly doesn't give a damn what you thought as you took your first mouthful of Mexican food.
* Mention religious or ethnic differences. It's so easy to patronise when you wax lyrical about the quaint little customs of the villagers; the interesting way the townspeople behave at funerals etc.
* Use "reverse-racism". To quote Brentnall again, "It is sad how many articles we get that describe people of non-Caucasian descent as being 'well-trained', 'polite', 'professional', 'well-spoken' and 'hygienic' (seriously)."
* State the obvious. Most people who travel are aware that the sun rises in the east - even if you add something about the skyline, this is still old news! If you're at the beach, don't write that, "the waves rolled up on the sands" - surprise ... that's what a beach is.
* Use journalese. How many places have you read about where "old meets new"; how many places have "twisting alleys", "bustling thoroughfares", "half-forgotten byways"? Too many!
* Discuss the gory details. Travel writing is meant to accentuate the positive, not the negative aspects of destinations. (Unless, of course, you're doing an expose.)
* Be a snob. People from all backgrounds travel these days, don't alienate any of your potential readers by using obscure language or allusions.

Do

* Use short words in preference to long words (likewise for sentences and paragraphs).
* Focus on what's interesting and different about the spot. Find details that are significant in some way - they might be unusual, colourful or humorous - just look for something that makes the place special. Usually this will be a combination of the place and the people. Look around for someone or something that catches your eye and use this as the focus for your piece. Maybe there's an unusual colour scheme in shop windows or buildings; a pedestrian that causes you to stop and look, or an absence of something that you'd expect to find in the area.

Jennifer Stewart is a professional writer who offers copy writing, proof reading and editing services for businesses and individuals from her site at http://www.write101.comYou can subscribe to free Writing Tips to improve your writing http://www.onelist.com/subscribe/WritingTips
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