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Let the place do the talking

It is tremendously difficult to write about a place you know as if you are a travel writer. I have tried it and it is almost impossible: there are too many layers of knowledge and association and – possibly mixed – feeling between you and your subject. To practice, therefore, you need to go somewhere new. It does not have to be far: in fact a very good exercise is to stay on the train to the stop you have never used before, or walk to a part of town you don’t know, or drive to and stop in a village you have only ever passed through. Now you need to engage someone in conversation. I got a whole briefing and mini guide to the town of Pant just by asking ‘What’s it like here?’ of the person behind the till in the petrol station. Shop keepers, the elderly, dog-walkers, anyone who is not in a rush may give you stories, tips and prompts. Sometimes I am very up-front: ‘I’m a travel writer and I’m looking for stories!’ works. But often people don’t want to know much about you – they are too busy telling you about them and their place, which is perfect. When you write your piece up, try to keep yourself out of it as much as possible. Let the people and the place do the talking.

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Tips for Travel Writing

First, you need to find a subject that lights you up. If beach resorts are not your thing,…

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Find the shape of your story

Pick up one of the books you really like – it doesn’t matter if it’s fiction or non-fiction….

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What is a scene?

Novelists are always told to show, not tell. They are also told to ‘write in scenes’ which means…

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Developing a scene

If you are already writing a memoir, look through the work you have done to date and see…

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Write The Blurb For Your Novel

Write the blurb for your novel – the summary that appears on the back jacket of a book…

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Uncharted Seas

Writing a novel is like setting out to sail across a vast, uncharted sea, without any resources such…

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Don’t let them talk you out of it

Spend a little time identifying who the people are who might tell you not to write your memoir….

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Controlling your fear

Thomas Keneally says that, ‘Writing is an exercise in controlling your fear. Above all the fear that you…

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Creating ‘Child Eye’s View’ when writing for young people

Young people don’t just come under the heading of one audience. There are so many different ages and…

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Using an object to tell a story

The aim of this exercise is to use the power of objects or images to help to illustrate…

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Structuring a story

Choose a very famous person, someone whose life-story you know well (e.g. the Queen, Hitler, John Lennon). Imagine…

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