Experience is an asset when it comes to travel writing, but it’s not the only criteria for getting published. At Yankee we have a long, proud history of publishing first-time writers and one of the joys of being an editor is discovering a new voice to bring to our readers.
Can it happen to you? You bet. Follow these three top travel writing tips and you’ll get the kind of notice your story or ideas deserve.
Editors want to be surprised. Ideas that reveal something new will always pique their interest. That doesn’t mean, however, that editors are only looking to write about relatively undiscovered destinations. A different perspective on a familiar destination can be just as compelling.
Yankee was founded in 1935 and, since then, we’ve probably published more articles on Cape Cod than other travel publication. But when an unknown writer came to us a few years ago and presented an idea to write about the National Seashore trails the park rangers love to visit, we jumped at the chance to run the story. It was unexpected, insidery, and totally original.
As we suspected, our readers loved it.
Keep your eyes open
Good travel writing means being observant. Your job isn’t just to tell readers about a place but to bring them there. We recently received a draft of a story from an experienced travel writer that needed major work. So much of the piece was “turn right” and “turn left.” After several paragraphs, it began to read like a series of GPS directions.
Your goal should be to give your editor a story, not an itinerary. What did the city feel like at night? What conversations did you hear at the morning coffee shop? What special local knowledge about the place did you glean from some of the people you met?
The more texture, the more flavor you can fold into your writing, the brighter, and more alive it will feel. Do that, and you’ll immediately make your editor want to read more.
Make it yours
Good storytelling means bringing a point of view to your writing. In this age of Yelp reviews, magazine readers want authority, a sense that you truly know the definitive places to visit. So don’t write that a restaurant or beach as “great,” tell your readers what makes it so special.
Paint the picture, drawing on both facts and observations to make your point. Also, keep the writing light, almost conversational, as though you were describing your visit to a friend.
Quick tip: When you’ve finished your first draft, don’t hit send. Put it away for a day, then come back to it and read it out loud to yourself. By doing this you’ll hear what your lines sound like. Is the writing too rigid? Is there proper pacing? Do some of your sentences meander? Reading out loud is a great technique for catching oddities and discovering places where you can tighten.
Every editor you work with will appreciate that.
[Editor’s Note: Learn more about how you can fund your travels and make an extra income with photography, travel writing, blogging, and more in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel. Sign up here today and we’ll send you a new report, Profit From Your Photos: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]