Account Login

Arvon Blog

Travel/Non-Fiction Writing Tips


Non-Fiction writer, journalist and Arvon tutor Lois Pryce shares some useful tips on non-fiction and travel writing.

Find and Use Your Voice


It’s easy to be influenced by your favourite writers and natural to want to emulate what you enjoy reading but it is important that you write as your true self. This is what will engage the reader. Travel/life writing is a very personal, human affair – it’s not a report of dry facts and statistics so don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through. You are taking the readers on a journey – so make sure you are an engaging companion.

What’s the Story?

It’s not enough to just go somewhere and relate what you did there. Think about the narrative of your journey. What was the goal of your trip? Did you achieve it? What problems and conflicts got in your way? How did you overcome them? These are the ups and down of the story – this is what keeps the reader turning the page, wondering what will happen next. They should be rooting for you. Read your favourite books and think about how the narrative is structured – what makes the story compelling? There are lots of useful reference books about story structure – read them and start analysing books and films to see how storytelling works. It’s a fun exercise that you can apply to all art forms – film, TV, theatre, books, even magazine/newspaper articles.

Leave it Out!

Some aspects of your journey might have been great fun or fascinating for you but may not make for such great reading – it’s the ‘you had to be there’ phenomenon. Try to look at your theme with an objective eye and only include elements that are relevant to the story as a whole. The same goes for technical details – facts and figures can be part of the bigger story but they are dull when related in isolation.

Senses Working Overtime

Writing descriptions of scenery and places without straying into clichés can be tricky. Lois-Pryce-QuoteUse all five senses when describing your experiences – not just what it looked like. Smells are particularly evocative as are textures and sounds. Every human being understands these sensations.

Let It All Hang Out

Be vulnerable in your writing. Lay yourself bare on the page. Don’t try to project an image that you imagine the reader wants to see. Tell the truth. Yes, include the tales of your triumphs and bravery but also write about the times you were scared, or lonely or miserable. Your readers will connect with you and be rooting for you if you come across as human, rather than some superhero.

Lois Pryce is an author and journalist. She has written two travel memoirs about her solo motorcycle journeys in the Americas and Africa. Her most recent solo motorcycle ride through Iran will be published by Nicholas Brealey/Hachette in January 2017 and will be called Revolutionary Ride.

Lois Pryce will be teaching the ‘Non-Fiction Work in Progress: Weaving Real Life Events into an Engaging Story‘ course with Ian Marchant at Lumb Bank from June 6th – June 12th 2016. Course info and bookings.

Russell Thompson’s Arvon Experience

In 1987 I attempted to enrol on an Arvon course, but it was full up. I decided to…

Find out more >

Arvon Freehouse of the Imagination: Russ Litten

TUTOR DEVELOPMENT WEEK I came home from Totleigh Barton with a rattle in my boot. It’s there now,…

Find out more >

Arvon Grants: Emma-Louise Norry’s Arvon Week

I’d wistfully looked at the Arvon brochure for years, pouring over each course title and author tutor as…

Find out more >

Jonathan Asser’s Arvon Journey: From Poetry to Scripts

My script for Starred Up was drawn from personal experience running a therapeutic group for violent prisoners, and…

Find out more >

Speculative Fiction, What Ifs and Making Things Up

joanna and liz

Arvon tutors Joanna Kavenna and Liz Jensen on the pleasures and challenges of writing speculative fiction.Together there’ll be teaching the…

Find out more >

My Arvon Week: Pregnant Pause

I was six months pregnant with my second child and two years pregnant with my first novel when…

Find out more >

Wyl Menmuir – From Starting to Write to publication

“Write hard and clear about what hurts” Advice for writers abounds. Especially online. It’s grand. But I have…

Find out more >

Cooking and Eating on an Arvon Week

Good food is part of the Arvon Experience: How and Why Arvon has a firm commitment to making…

Find out more >

Tricia Durdey’s Arvon Week


Ten years ago I attended an Arvon course at Lumb Bank – Writing for Young Adults, led by…

Find out more >

Arvon partners with First Story in Creative Writing in Schools programme

Arvon is pleased to announce that it has been named a partner in a new Creative Writing in…

Find out more >

Theodora Clarke – Arvon Revisited: Starting to Write


I had no idea what to expect when I started the long drive from London to Totleigh Barton…

Find out more >