How to make your writing actually say something


Feature image by: Ben Rea

Whether you’re writing a narrative, listicle, or a caption for a photograph, don’t get caught up in abstractions, platitudes, and cliches. Because these have been a big part of “travel writing” (actually, it’s the result of travel marketing) for such a long time it can be hard to know when you’re doing it; for a large part it’s become the norm. As a beginner writer it can take a while to find your own voice, so you emulate what you read, and many of us have been reading travel fluff for a long time. The hard part is recognizing when we read it, and when we write it. You’ve likely heard the phrase “show don’t tell.” You’re also sure to know of the 5Ws: Who, What, Where, When, and Why. Use these to inject details into your writing; details that transport the reader, that evoke emotion (as opposed to imposing emotion), that show you were actually there at a specific place, at a specific time. Use street names, people names, specific meals, drinks, smells, colors, sounds, etc. Put an end to the “magnificent vistas” and “hidden gems.”

Here are a few articles we’ve published in the past that illustrate concepts we teach in the MatadorU curricula:

Our travel writing courses take these to the next level and you’ll get one-on-one workshopping with a mentor.

Happy writing all!

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