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A trip is not a story in itself, it’s just a series of events.
Not only about dozens of places and types of food, but also about the industry.
I spent the last few weeks talking to a couple dozen other established travel and food writers, bloggers, and Instagrammers about the behind-the-scenes aspects of their jobs. Though the rise of social media, especially Instagram, has enmeshed them.
Travel articles are peppered with meaningless words and phrases: stunning, incredible, pretty, diverse; ‘land of contrasts’, ‘melting pot’, ‘bustling’.
Any of these could be applied to thousands of destinations worldwide.
Try to use language that is specific to what you’re describing, and which allows readers to paint a picture in their mind’s eye.
If you’re wandering around a strange country without a guidebook, you look for signposts. Every few paragraphs tell them where you’re going next, and remind them of your ultimate goal.Some trips have a physical objective (reaching the top of Kilimanjaro, crossing Costa Rica, seeing a tiger) that gives your article direction and purpose.The reader (hopefully) sticks with you because they want to know if you’ll achieve your goal.To see the kinds of stories that get published, look at the bold line of introductory copy (known as ‘standfirsts’ in the trade) of articles in papers, magazines and websites.Try writing the standfirst for your own story, and then use it as your brief.With a paragraph to spare, put the brakes on and start setting up your conclusion. Think about where you started, and reflect on the journey. Paid for vacations, elaborate dinners, beautiful accommodations, once in a lifetime experiences done in the name of research. But ask any travel writer or influencer about their job, and they’ll rush to tell you it’s not that easy.But many trips don’t have an obvious goal; they are more about discovering a place, unpicking its history or meeting its people.In this case, create a personal goal to give your reader a sense of where you’re taking them.You can use drama, humour, dialogue, (or all three) – but those first sentences must grip like glue. Whenever you travel, make notes of what people say and how they say it.‘Showing’ and ‘telling’ are two everyday storytelling techniques you probably use without realising.