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How to Write About Travel
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Travel narrative

Travel narratives, or "armchair travel" books, often read like novels--and indeed, they're often cut from the same cloth as novels. Consider:

  • A couple buys an abandoned farm in Provence. Over the course of a year, the hero and heroine battle against dry rot, scorpions, local bureaucrats, and suspicious neighbors until until they finally succeed in restoring their new home and winning the townspeople's hearts.
  • An investment banker in Manhattan gives up his job to explore the Amazon River by kayak. As he endures the challenges of insects, snakes, and gun-toting exploiters of the Brazilian rainforest, he achieves a new outlook on life.

Either of these stories could be a novel, if it were based on fictitious characters and written in the third person. Furthermore, each book uses writing techniques used in novels:

Dramatic narrative. The story has a beginning, middle, and end. Conflict and an arc of character development add to the novelistic flavor.

Dialogue. Characters speak to each other, using dialogue reconstructed or synthesized from the author's notes and memory.

If your goal is to write travel narrative, consider taking a course in fiction writing.The techniques you learn as a novelist will serve you well when you're describing a year in the Australian outback or a tour around America by unicycle.

Magazines and newspapers

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