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For Bloggers: Travel writing at ground level
 

For Bloggers: Travel writing at ground level

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Ban the fluff in travel blogging, and stand apart from thousands of travel bloggers by writing at ground level. Visually show us your experiences with words, and don't just tell us about it. This ...

Ban the fluff in travel blogging, and stand apart from thousands of travel bloggers by writing at ground level. Visually show us your experiences with words, and don't just tell us about it. This presentation shows you how.

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  • Why? Because “windy” and “cold” are relative. I live in Sweden, and what you consider cold may not necessarily be cold to me.
  • Doesn’t help any PR firm or tourism board who is committed to improving and providing quality services.

For Bloggers: Travel writing at ground level For Bloggers: Travel writing at ground level Presentation Transcript

  • Travel Writing At Ground Level - For Bloggers
    Lola (Akinmade) Åkerström
  • BANTHEFLUFF
  • Step UpYour Writing Skills
  • Quick Background
    Freelance writer and photographer
    Editor with Matador Network
    Faculty at MatadorU
    Photoblogger and writer for Sweden.se
  • Reasons Why We Blog
    Free travel via press trips
    Advertising & SEO revenue
    The glamorized “cool” factor
    Personal musings
    All of the above
    None of the above
  • Unofficial Blogging Stats
    Thousands of travel bloggers
  • Unofficial Blogging Stats
    A few hundred of which run within the same circles
    Same bloggers on the same press trips writing about the same things
  • Why Do You Blog?
    So, what makes your blog or blogging style truly different?
  • Travel Blogging
    Think about your favorite blogs.
  • Travel Blogging
    Why do you like those blogs?
  • Travel Blogging
    • Not for their SEO prowess (though you respect and maybe secretly crave it)
    • Not the fact that they regularly enjoy free luxury travel (though you’re secretly jealous)
  • Travel Blogging
    • Not because they are technically-perfect MFA*-wielding, fancy writers.
    * - Masters of Fine Art (MFA) degree
  • Travel Blogging
    But because of
    how they write
    There’s a certain “openness” to their writing
  • Travel Writing
    Re-introducing
    the concept of
    “Ground Level” writing
  • The Concept of Ground Level
    Ground Level = Transparency
    Ground Level = Show, Not Tell
    Ground Level = Personal, Not Perfect
  • The Concept of Ground Level
    So a writer/blogger, you’re placing the reader squarely by your side…at ground level.
  • The “Great” Irony
    Showing “tells” a reader
    so much more than telling does.
  • Quick Example - 1
    Non-transparent - Telling
    “It was a windy and cold day”
    Transparent – Showing
    “Smoke from the food vendors’ carts blew horizontally southward. We all had on heavy coats.”…David Miller
  • Quick Example - 2
    Non-transparent - Telling
    “[New York/Paris/Lisbon/Rome] is a fascinating city with historical gems”
    “Fascinating”, “Historical”, and especially “Gems” tell the reader absolutely nothing.
  • What Kills Transparency?
    Five (5) Transparency Killers
    Fear
    Conformity
    Clichés
    Too Many/Flat Adjectives
    Doubting Your Own Voice
  • What Kills Transparency?
    Fear
    Fear of losing out on press trips and opportunities
    Little to no honest property reviews.
    Everything was, and is, and shall be “awesome” forever
  • What Kills Transparency?
    Conformity
    Trying to be everything to everyone
    Following a specific formula:
    Start blog -> Promo like crazy -> Make money
    Conformity sucks up individuality and voice
  • What Kills Transparency?
    Clichés
    “Stockholm/St. Petersburg – The Venice of the North”
    “Bangkok/Udaipur/Alleppey- Venice of the East”
    “Georgetown/Christchurch/Melbourne – The Venice of the South”
    é
  • What Kills Transparency?
    Adjectives – Flat and/or Too Many
    Sun-kissed/Sun-dappled
    Best-kept secret, Best, Great
    Perched, Nestled
    Exotic, Gem, Can’t miss/Must-see
    Bad -> Sun-kissed sand….
    A Little Better -> The sand, tainted yellow by the sun, ….
    é
  • What Kills Transparency?
    Doubting Your Own Voice
    Will people still like me if they find out what I really think?
    Am I really boring?
    Do I need to be funny?
    “Boring” & “Funny” is relative
    é
  • The Concept of Ground Level
    The lack of ground level writing is one of many reasons why many traditional journalists aren’t warming up to bloggers.
  • The Concept of Ground Level
    Another problem is that many publications writers want to write for still use and edit-in lazy definite words to describe places and experiences.
  • Examples
    Ground Level
    “  Spring remains my favorite season each year; that slow steady transition from cold dark winters to bright freshness that signifies rebirth to me on so many levels.”
  • Examples
    Edited and published version
    “Chase away dreary, monochrome winter thoughts with an explosion of color signifying the season’s rebirth.”
  • Types of Travel Writing
    Non-Narrative
    Narrative
  • Narrative vs. Non-Narrative
    Narrative
    - Creative non-fiction
    - Fewer publication outlets
    - More awards
    Non-Narrative
    - Service and destination pieces
    - The bulk of travel writing
    - Easiest to “template”
  • The Concept of Ground Level
    “Okay.
    But I don’t write narrative styletravel writing.
    Why should I care??”
  • The Concept of Ground Level
    “What makes you different from a generic content farm?”
  • Examples
    Non-Transparent
    The barrio is filled with stray dogs and happy-go-lucky kids.
    Ground Level
    “My neighbor’s grandkids – the Colques- are laughing and yelling as they push-start an old truck. The dogs are barking and chasing the truck out of the barrio.”….David Miller
  • Examples
    Non-Transparent
    “Hilo Farmer’s market is a place where you can bask in the colors, the exotic tastes, and smells of tropical summer.”
  • Examples
    Ground Level
    I walk past mounds of red cayenne pepper, yellow saffron, and green pistachio powder. There’s a strong smell of ripening pineapple in the air. This is Hilo Farmer’s market.
  • Examples
    Non-Transparent
    “Art lovers know there’s nothing that tops a free exhibit on a warm summer day.”
  • Examples
    Ground Level Alternative
    [None]
    Skip the “Art Lovers…” intro and just get to the point.
  • Examples
    Non-Transparent
    “Jon loves the outdoors.”
  • Examples
    Ground Level
    “Jon’s car is a blue Jeep Grand Cherokee with 139,200 miles on the odometer. The PERFORM SERVICE light on the instrument panel is blinking, but it always blinks. The back of the car is crammed full of tents and stoves and packs, hammocks and fly-rods, stray pieces of tippet, a scuffed Chouinard Equipment ski pole from the 1970s, boxes of microbrew, bear-spray, Gazetteers for Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado, a cowboy hat…”
  • Examples
    Non-Transparent
    “There is an art to riding the Trans-Siberian railway”
    (For who? Travelers? Locals?)
  • Examples
    Ground Level
    “On my own Trans-Siberian journey, I found that there’s an art to riding the line.”
  • Examples
    Non-Transparent
    “The pants are great and work well in all active situations.”
  • Examples
    Ground Level
    “I won’t pretend to know what the genius who designed these pants had in mind for their intended use, but the pockets reflect a deep respect for freedom of movement that suggests break dancing and karate jump kicking.”
    ….Joshywashington, prAna review
  • Examples
    More Ground Level
    “The fabric is some kind of indestructible substance. I could read the label, but I would rather assume they are made from a blend of NASA space suit material and the finest Imperial silk.”
    …Joshywashington, prAna review
  • Travel Writing
    The point isn’t “witty banter”
    The point is being comfortable enough to write in your own true voice
  • Finding Your Voice
    Developing Your Own Voice
    1. Write what you see, hear, and smell without adjectives
    2. Weave “yourself” into “your” experience
    3. Write like you’re writing to a friend
  • Finding Your Voice
    “Well, how do I go about finding my own writing voice?”
  • Matador Network
    Matador Network rages against the status quo.
    MatadorU - Award-winning new Media School which advocates “Transparent Ground Level Reporting”
    Advancing the careers of travel writers, travel photographers, and filmmakers.
  • Matador Network
    Just how hot is our rage against the status quo?
    Just one example:
    MatadorU has partnered with the Belize Tourism Board.
  • MatadorU Travel Writing
    Narrative Structure
    Transitions
    Interaction between characters
    Developing Dialogue
    Details
    Anecdotes
    Lots more...
  • MatadorU
    Numerous success stories at MatadorU
    http://www.matadoru.com
  • You at Ground Level
    How Do You Stand Out?
    Writing as honestly and as transparently as you can.
    Been proactive about changing lazy travel writing
  • You at Ground Level
    Being Proactive
    Reach out to local tourism boards, not for press trips but for more meaningful partnerships.
  • Summary
    At Ground Level, nothing is ‘foreign’ or ‘exotic’ or ‘virtuous’ or ‘pure’. People are just people. Place is just place.
    When we ‘make more’ of it (or less), when we appropriate others’ struggles or culture as our own, when we reduce people and places into symbols or abstractions or commodities, when we pretend to speak for others, we disrespect those whose lands and homes and cultures we’re fortunate enough to pass through.
    Writing at Ground Level is a way of showing respect
    …David Miller
  • Resources
    86 (and counting)
    Free Travel Writing Articles and Travel Photography Resources
    http://www.matadoru.com/resources/
  • Contact Information
    @LolaAkinmade
    @MatadorU
    @MatadorNetwork
    lola@matadornetwork.com
  • Writing At Ground Level
    Questions?