Spice Up Your Travel WritingPresentation Transcript
Spice Up Your Travel Writing Intermediate LevelTravel Bloggers Unite – Umbria 2012 Abigail King
Who am I?Journalist Lonely Planet, CNN, Huffington Post, France Today, National Geographic Traveler & more Medical journals @abigailking www.abigailking.co.uk
Who am I?Blogger Inside the Travel Lab www.insidethetravellab.com @insidetravellab
Who am I?Medical Doctor Swapped a career as a hospital doctor for a life with words and pixels.
This Workshop• After you’ve mastered the basics, how do you learn how to make your writing stand out from the crowd? How can you make your reader really understand what is in your head – and relate to what you meant to say?• In this workshop, we’ll talk about how you can use themes and different structures to get your point across – and also how to find that slushy- sounding thing people call “voice.”• Themes – bringing different layers to your writing• Speech – introducing others to your story• Editing - the writer’s “secret” tool• Voice – where and how to find yours• Bringing it all together and where to go next
The Power of Words
Getting Started• Before you add spice, you must be clear• Otherwise it’s just confusing• First, a quick recap on clearing and cleaning up your writing
You have a point, right?Why are you writing this post?• Information guide• Provoke a discussion• Entertain
Cleaning• Clear unnecessary clutter – Trim out adjectives – Eliminate adverbs – Banish the passive voice – Avoid word repetition – Be ruthless: remove at least 10%
The Promise• Begins with your headline• Reinforced by your introduction• Carried throughout the piece• Delivered at the end
Headlines• The day I held the Iron Curtain in my hand• Two million page views later and why it doesn’t matter• Skydiving: my first 60 second freefall• A waterproof, shockproof camera: the Olympus TG-610 Review
Adding Spice• Add the spice that fits your promise• Add the spice that fits your point• Let’s go!
Package Facts• You are not Wikipedia• But people like to learn something new• Sweep away a long list of facts into a tidy fact box• Or at least a pair or brackets
The Fact Flourish• They’ve got that perfect blend of comfort food without the weight of stodge. Plus, they have the element of surprise as you never know which one you’re going to get. And finally? They come have a wonderful range of trivia. Did you know, for example, that pierogi have their own saint? (St Hyacinth, or Swiety Jacek, in case that piece of life knowledge passed you by. It’s used in an expression to mean “good grief!”) And how about this: the Proto-Slavic root “pir” means festivity in its various Slavic cognates across Eurasia? And this: the words in that last sentence actually mean something to some people?! Yes, a pieróg is no ordinary dumpling.
Finding Facts• Wikipedia – references• Broadsheet papers• Interviews• Books
Rhythm & Blues• Most people read aloud in their head• There is a rhythm that pleases us• Difficult to explain• But it is there• Rules of threes
Rhythm & Threes• Education, education, education• Yes we can• Just do it• You get me a coffee, you get me my briefcase and you...get a haircut!
The Road to SopronSometimes things go wrong in life. The printer at the carhire company breaks, the sat nav doesn’t work, the journeyis longer than you’ve been told and you turn up very late.Sometimes other things go wrong in life. You’re shot at bysoldiers while walking in a field, you’re banned from livingwith your family and the very act of trying to cross theborder that contains you brands you a criminal in a regimereliant on torture and execution.And sometimes those two worlds collide.
Speech• Energises text• Provides local flavour• If you do it right• Don’t include everything someone told you• Ask the right questions
The Iron Curtain“I came here with my friend of Holland,” saysWind. “Just to look and to make some pictures.”He trembles.“And the soldiers, they took their guns and theyshot.”
Interviews• Avoid best of/favourite/top questions• Ask “open” questions• Create colour and character• Get the name of the dog
Play God• Put someone in the scene• Bring inanimate objects to life• Mention all the senses• Psst - Video can’t do this
PierogiPS – It’s also suspiciously similar to gyoza in Japan andnothing like the ravioli in Italy, whatever the food criticssay.If I were tracing the ancestry of food, I’d be placinggood money on discovering an illegitimate flingbetween Japan and modern day Poland somewhere inthe 18th century. Like ravioli indeed...Pah!
Use Power Words• Death, love, passion, money, power, mother, baby, child, life, living, ghost, free, trust• You
The Dummy• Lull the reader into expecting one thing• And then surprise them with another• Badoom- bash!
Analysis Sometimes things go wrong in life. The printer at the car hire company breaks, the sat nav doesn’t work, the journey is longer than you’ve been told and you turn up very late. Sometimes other things go wrong in life. You’re shot at by soldiers while walking in a field, you’re banned from living with your family and the very act of trying to cross the border that contains you brands you a criminal in a regime reliant on torture and execution. And sometimes those two worlds collide.The day I held the Iron Curtain in my hand
SEO & Drama• Surviving the World’s Most Dangerous Road in Bolivia To be fair, it’s technically not considered the “World’s Most Dangerous Road” anymore. Due to the construction of a new highway close by, which directs most traffic away from its path, they’ve recently upgraded the trail’s nickname to a much more simple, passive and inviting moniker… “The Death Road.”• Tourist2Townie.com
Analysis• Surviving the World’s Most Dangerous Road in Bolivia To be fair, it’s technically not considered the “World’s Most Dangerous Road” anymore. Due to the construction of a new highway close by, which directs most traffic away from its path, they’ve recently upgraded the trail’s nickname to a much more simple, passive and inviting moniker… “The Death Road.”• Tourist2Townie.com
The Lure• Chloride, Arizona, is a living ghost town. It’s an odd village with crumbling buildings, a bizarre collection of yard art and an impressive number of tractors. More than 72 mines used to operate in Chloride, and remnants of many of them can still be seen today. There are a few small corner shops where people sell gifts and cold sodas, and occasionally a ghost is spotted wandering around, but other than that, there’s not a whole lot going on in this high desert town. Except one thing …Kaleidoscopic Wandering
Analysis• Chloride, Arizona, is a living ghost town It’s an odd village with crumbling buildings, a bizarre collection of yard art and an impressive number of tractors. More than 72 mines used to operate in Chloride, and remnants of many of them can still be seen today. There are a few small corner shops where people sell gifts and cold sodas, and occasionally a ghost is spotted wandering around, but other than that, there’s not a whole lot going on in this high desert town. Except one thing …Badoom-bash!
VoiceUnleash your inner rock star
Voice• Unique• You• Stand out from the crowd• Writing “rules” help unleash yours• Writing badly hides it
Finding Your Voice• Sing in the shower• Write in as many different styles as you can manage• Write as though no-one will ever read it• Write without reading back• Write without stopping• Let loose – now you know you can return and bash it into something presentable through editing
Don’t Hide Your Voice• Search out the bland words and expressions that we all share• Lovely, awesome, gorgeous• Beware your “crutch” words• The best• Don’t drown it out beneath the howls and gnashing of teeth of poor spelling and grammar
Themes• Shrek• Children’s film that adults can enjoy• Jokes and plot points that work on several levels• A deeper theme: character is more important than beauty• (and our culture currently teaches the opposite)
The Godfather• Gun fight gangster entertainment• Crime doesn’t pay in the end• The quest for absolute power leads to absolute loneliness• The quest for respect• Universal themes: power, respect, inheritance, loyalty, betrayal, family conflict• Relates to us all
Too Heavy for A Blog Post?• People respond to emotion more than reason• People travel to feel something• People read about travel to feel something (or to learn something that will help them travel)
Dangerous Spice• Very unique• “Only in Italy...”• The best• Complaining too much• National stereotypes• Too much slang
Deliver Satisfaction• Don’t just stop• Deliver your reader safely back to the real world• Make them glad they bothered to read the whole thing
The Finish• Echo something from the start• End with a teaser• End with a quote• End with a question
The StartI’m running through Kraków’s bus station, spinning around to see coacheslined up behind me and smaller trams rattling through the concrete spacebelow. My eyes jump around, searching for D8, for Oświȩcim.A stocky man strides towards me.“Proszę,” I say, please, before my supply of Polish dries up. I’m suddenlyembarrassed, flushed and ashamed to say to the face of a stranger one ofthe most emotionally charged words in the world.“Auschwitz.” He says it first.
The FinishNinety minutes later I’m back in Krakow, in the rush hour stream of21st century life. Beyonce’s Beautiful Nightmare accompanies thecommuters and shoppers, while fluorescent lights shine over thelatest Zara collection and women sell salt-encrusted Obwarzanki fromkiosks sheltered from the wind.I go to buy one and find two pieces of paper in my pocket. Jan’s cardand the square cut-out from the first bus driver. It lists the departuretimes from Auschwitz back to the modern world.It’s only small, but perhaps this was the sliver of beauty and hopethat I was searching for.
Call to Action• Subscribe• Read more• Share• Buy• Join a tour
Where to go next...• Matador or writers.com for online courses• My online course on social media for writers: http://www.writers.com/king.html
Going furtherBooksWrite to Sell – Andy MaslenOn Writing – Stephen KingStory - Robert McKeeBlogsCopybloggerhttp://www.economist.com/styleguide/introduction