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.
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 …
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.