Author: David Atkinson

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How to get into travel writing at the Chester Literature Festival

The Chester Literature Festival was in full swing this week.

I was there on Friday to run a travel-writing workshop [pictured above] for future freelancers and career changers seeking to branch out.

Some planned to pitch ideas to magazines, others were looking to develop their voice online as a blogger.

I ran this workshop as a taster session but, given the interest on the day for a sold-out event, I will look at future workshops for the new year.

Meanwhile, as part of the session, I shared my top six travel-writing tips as follows:

People, not places

The best travel stories are not about places. They’re about the people who live in those places.

So talk to local people and weave this into your narrative. Nothing adds life to a story like direct speech.

Find a story

A lot of travel stories are very information led. But the stories that really stand out tell proper stories. So find a real story, get a proper angle, think about your readership. Then frame these elements in the context of a destination.

Get it right

Commissioning editors don’t have the time, nor the inclination, to correct your spelling, cut down your copy if you bust your word count and punctuate your sentences. Want more work? Then get it right.

Work with the medium

And not against it. Writing for print? You have the luxury of longer sentences and more descriptive language. But if you’re writing for online, then take a leaf from George Orwell’s book and keep the language more direct. People are increasingly reading your articles on mobile devices, so format for the screen.

Spot the openings

Publications thrive on regular sections and this is your way in, especially as a first-time contributor. Editors need to fill these sections and often to look to freelancers to plug the gaps. So, read, read and read some more.

 Strictly business

Travel writing is a job. Treat it as such. You’re working as a specialist reporter, covering a niche area. You want to be regarded as a professional? Then act professionally. And expect to be paid …

How to spend a cultural weekend in Galway, Ireland

I’m just back from a weekend in Galway, the southern Irish city that will be next year’s European Capital of Culture.

The west-coast city has always been something of a cultural hub with its annual summer arts festival. It’s also known, of course, for its traditional pubs [pictured above] and hospitality.

But, as I found over a couple of days in the city, the whole cultural regeneration associated with the European title comes at an interesting time for a place outside of the Westminster-Brexit bubble.

As Bridgette Brew, Head of Tourism for Galway 2020, told me:

“Galway has always had a freedom of mindset, an ability to see a different perspective. It comes from our hinterland looking out to The Atlantic.”

From the Wild Atlantic Way coastal driving route to an interesting take on the burgeoning slow-food scene via a Sunday morning stroll with Galway Food Tours, the weekend offered me plenty of new angles on the familiar story of the illusive Irish craic.

Read the full story in Telegraph Travel soon and look out for other stories over the next few months.

Read more:

Galway2020

Galway Food Tours

This Is Wrexham copywriting: A time-travel visit to the Ceiriog valley

A weekend in North Wales then, copywriting a couple of tourism itineraries for This Is Wrexham.

The second trip was based in the Ceiriog Valley, exploring the attractions of a sometimes less visited part of North Wales.

Here’s a flavour of the story:

It’s a view to stop you in your tracks — looking across the village and up the valley to the Berwyn range.

“I’ve painted this view numerous times, trying to capture the soft colours and long shadows,” smiles the artist Rosie Davies, surrounded by her sketchpads and work-in-progress watercolours at her Ceiriog Valley art studio.

Rosie changed careers to move to the village of Llanarmon from Cheshire and now devotes her time to capturing the natural beauty of this lost-in-time area of Wrexham County.

“The valley is like another world,” adds Rosie, who opens her studio at the Tithe Barn to visitors on the second Saturday of the month.

“I’ve finally found the tranquility and inspiration to fulfill my ambition to paint.”

Read the full text here via This Is Wrexham.

This Is Wrexham copywriting: A family weekend around Llangollen

A weekend in North Wales then, copywriting a couple of tourism itineraries for This Is Wrexham.

First up was a family trip based around Llangollen to explore some of the attractions of a sometimes less visited part of North Wales.

Here’s a flavour of the story:

The next day we drive into Langollen to explore the Dee Valley market town guarded by the rambling ruins of Castle Dinas Bran.

We catch a ride on the Llangollen Railway, the only standard-gauge heritage railway in North Wales, where the steam engine huffs and puffs its way along a genteel 10-mile track through the AONB.

We finally steam into Carrog station [see above], whistle tooting, for tea and Welshcakes at the station café. An old railway carriage has been turned into a pop-up shop with Hornby train set pieces, railway jigsaws and well-thumbed copies of Heritage Rail magazine.

A nice touch on the return leg is when the conductor gives out souvenir vintage rail tickets, dating from the 1950s heyday of the railway.

It takes me the rest of the journey back to Llangollen to explain the price — eight shillings and three pence — to the girls who regard the 1980s as ‘the olden days’.

Read the full text here via This Is Wrexham.