Here’s another important tip from Denver Post Travel Editor (and former food writer) Kyle Wagner.
She dished up this nugget of wisdom a few weeks back at our Breaking into Food Writing Workshop when she answered the questions:
How many restaurants should I recommend in my travel articles? And how do I know which ones to pick?
If you’ve ever faced the task of fitting a whole story about a place into 1,000 words or less… then you know how challenging it can be to narrow down your recommendations.
But Kyle makes it easy. Here’s what she suggests:
Depending on the length of your article, you should recommend three to five restaurants.
If you don’t think you can fit that many, suggest two or three and tell the editor that you have more where those came from.
She also recommends you give your reader a good mix of places to choose from. Here are the guidelines she uses…
HOW TO PICK THE RESTAURANTS YOU’LL RECOMMEND
1. Write up an old restaurant, a classic. It’s a good idea to write two or three sentences about one of the “grande dames,” or older, more well-known restaurants in town.
2. Include a new restaurant. What’s the latest, hot-shot restaurant on the scene?
3. Suggest something near where tourists go — like the beach, the theater, or other tourist attractions.
4. Don’t forget to include a restaurant specifically well-suited to the needs of your primary target audience (vegetarian, family-friendly, budget, for instance). Really, all of your restaurant picks should be made with your audience in mind. Readers of Travel and Leisure aren’t likely to be interested in the local burger joint (unless they serve Kobe beef burgers), but newspaper travel section readers might be. If you’re writing for an airline magazine audience, you might want to mention if a place is particularly well-suited for a business lunch, for instance.
5. And make sure you have breakfast, lunch, and dinner covered in your five suggestions.
GETTING THE “FOOD PART” RIGHT IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER
Kyle’s advice is more important now than ever. Because while some magazines still encourage the “travel narrative,” many are moving toward a more practical approach to destinations – think United Hemisphere’s Three Perfect Days series.
And it’s the same with newspapers. They’re looking for articles readers can tear out and use as guides on the ground.
One of the most important elements to get right in that kind of article is the “where to eat.” And lots of writers flub it. Their stuff ends up reading like a “laundry list.” And that can immediately kill a story in an editor’s eyes.
But if you choose the right kinds of places… and write about them well… that’ll give you an instant leg up when it comes to landing by-lines.
[Editor’s Note: Learn more about opportunities to profit from your travels (and even from your own home) in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.]