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Disgusting. Vile. Smells like old socks. I love it. Kimchi. As travel writers we’re paid for our opinions.  And when it comes to kimchi—a Korean vegetable side dish, traditionally fermented for months in a jar underground—it seems like our group’s opinions are divided. It’s Day 2 here in Seoul, and we’re learning secret techniques from Travel Editor Kyle Wagner about getting those opinions on paper.  “Not everyone will agree with your opinion,” she said.  “But it’s important that it’s in there.” But here’s the catch, according to Kyle: An editor’s number-one pet peeve (and she said this is true across the country… editors actually get together and discuss these things) is a story that starts with “I.” In fact, she added, that her editor back when she was a food critic told her that she was chosen out of all the applicants who applied for the job because she didn’t use the word “I” or the phrase “grilled to perfection” in her writing. So how then are you supposed to write your opinions without starting your first sentence with the word “I”? Well, I showed you one technique just now: Start with a single word.  Kimchi.  Socks.  Repulsive. Here’s another example of how to stop using “I” in writing… “Snick. That’s the quiet sound of Neal Maloney shucking an oyster. With the midday sun glinting off the bay around us, he pops it open as effortlessly as if unlocking his own front door.” from “Star of the bay,” by Margo True, Sunset Notice how the writer didn’t start with: “I just got back from Morro Bay, California.”  And instead she used a single word to start her story putting us right in the middle of the action. Here are three more ways you can avoid “I” in your first sentence… 1. Start with a quote. “Cha, cha, 1, 2, 3. Cha, cha, 2, 2, 3. Cha, cha, 3, 2, 3.” I said it out loud, over and over. In just 30 minutes, I’d be onstage before 375 people, performing a six-minute cha-cha routine with a man I’d partnered with just that afternoon. (From “Tango in Vegas? You bet,” by Nancy Trejos, The Washington Post) 2. Start mid-action with suspense. They left us there, on that deserted island. My husband and I watched as the 40-foot Munson landing craft pulled away, beaching us on a speck of jungle surrounded by the Gulf of Chiriqui. (From “Panama: Redefine roughing it in Islas Secas,” by Elizabeth Hightower Allen, Outside) 3. Make your reader laugh. Haute cuisine, at least in Paris, has gone on one big diet. (From “The Petit Bistros of Paris,” by Raphael Kadushin, National Geographic Traveler) A single tip like this can change everything when it comes time to pitch your stories to an editor.  Now that we know this is an editor’s number-one turn-off, we can edit it out before we approach someone with our story. It’s also great to have Kyle here in person, going over line by line, everything we write. Stay tuned tomorrow for more fun from Seoul. Share on Facebook [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.  Sign up today here and we’ll send you a report, Get Paid to Travel as a Travel Writer, completely FREE.]

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