By Kim Dreese
Ready to turn your travel writing from “blah” to “beautiful”? Read on for our top five tips!
1. Look at Your Verbs
Avoid “to be” verbs (“is,” “was,” “are”) as much as possible. Restructure your sentences with more powerful verbs to paint a clearer image in the reader’s mind.
Write this: I snatched my carry-on from the security conveyor belt, stuffed my feet into my shoes, and sprinted for the gate, dodging other passengers and weaving around surly businessmen.
Not this: I was almost late for my flight.
2. Read It Out Loud
Many of you have likely seen the Paris in the springtime illusion that seems perfectly ordinary the first time you glance at it, but after a second read, you realize that the world “the” was there twice and you never noticed. Your brain can work this way when reading your own work as well. Reading out loud will help to combat this phenomenon and improve your writing.
As you read out loud, consider the following questions:
- Does your prose sound natural?
- Do you repeat a certain word too many times within a few sentences?
- Does the writing flow without any awkward or confusing transitions?
If you don’t like reading out loud, at least send the draft to a trusted friend to ensure sure that it’s clear and easily understandable.
3. Use Your Five Senses
If you want to entrance your reader with your travel writing and make them feel as though they’re experiencing what you’ve already experienced, be specific and precise with detail and include as many of the senses as possible. Make your reader see, hear, feel, smell and taste your experience vividly.
Write this: The scent of urine and old fryer grease assaulted my nose as my weary feet trudged over the cobblestone path that ended in a long alley full of produce stands. A myriad of conversations in different languages bounced off the graffiti on the walls and buzzed at my ears, mixing with shouts, laughter and the dry sound of bills being slid out of wallets.
As I came upon a low-hanging canopy with a glass case full of a variety of cannolis, I dug a few Euros out of my own pocket and handed them to an old woman with a gold tooth. She delicately removed a cannoli from the case, wrapped it in wax paper, and handed it to me as carefully as a secret.
Not this: I had a tasty cannoli at a market in Rome.
4. Spice Up Your Travel Writing with Pictures, Videos, and Other Multimedia
Multimedia will show the reader the sights to which you can’t do justice with words alone.
5. Avoid Bad Grammar and Other Underminers
Many internet users tend to adopt a more casual style of communication, but this doesn’t mean that the elegance and entertainment value of your travel writing should necessarily follow suit. Part of your goal as a writer is to get people to consider you an authority on your subject. Errors like bad grammar, spelling, and punctuation instantly invoke a sense of doubt in the reader’s mind.
No matter what kind of voice and tone you are trying to establish, no one wants to read something that’s presented as a professional product but riddled with errors.
Above all, just keep writing. Scour the dictionary for amazing verbs. Read your prose out loud to your spouse, friend or cat. Make your reader feel like she’s snacking on an Italian cannoli based on powerful sensory details alone. When you can’t find the words, throw in a picture. Watch your grammar—you never know when your high school English teacher might stumble across your blog. And, most importantly, strive for truth and beauty.