I might often fail but I aim to be a travel writer that tells stories about places. Pretty much each of my travel articles has a narrative thread through it and I work hard to weave travel information that is handy for the campervan and motorhome community through this story, along with history and fascinating facts so that the article is both inspiring and useful.
I find various ways of telling a story. In some articles I have followed an earlier traveller, such as Bonnie Prince Charlie from Scotland to Derby [published May 2019] or Celia Fiennes on the Welsh border [published February 2017]. In other articles I have focused on local food. I took this approach for a trip to Lancashire [February 2015] and found the atmospheric cave-like wine shop in Clitheroe. More recently I visited the Conwy Honey Fair [August 2019] where everything related to honey can be purchased. In Spain I tried to get under the skin of the Spanish Civil War in my December 2019 article. Sometimes it is other writers that have inspired my trip; Alan Garner took me to Cheshire [November 2018], in Somerset and Devon [August 2018] I followed various authors and my latest MMM article to East Sussex explores the world of some of my favourite children’s authors. At times I chase my own memories; my trip around familiar Staffordshire towns and villages was one such trip [July 2016].
I try to write something that readers will enjoy, that will entertain them and that they will want to read until the end because they are following my story. On the way I will try to bring the place alive, maybe the smell of wood smoke in a Tuscan village, the taste of creamy ice-cream in Lancashire or the feel of the Orcadian wind in their hair. Readers can join me in the thrill of trying different Belgian beers in a small friendly bar, my frustrations with the weather or getting lost and my enthusiasm when I find something truly unique.
Good travel writing isn’t about statistics and lists, the ten best things to do, the cheapest restaurant for authentic food or the most comfortable hotels. While these things are useful once you are into the detail of planning your trip, for real inspiration I like to think readers want a story that paints a picture of a place. Initially, fellow travellers want to know if that place has something to interest them. They want to know if it is their kind of town or country and whether they might want to follow in my footsteps, making a trip that will become their own story.
My favourite travel writer is Dervla Murphy an inspirational author who writes intimate tales from unlikely places that bring both the place and the people alive. Although inspirational, it is her warmth and interest in people that I want to follow her example of. Every one of her books makes me feel as if I have walked or cycled alongside her on her journey. In an interview in the Irish Examiner she modestly said,
“If I am to be remembered, I’d like to be remembered as someone who was interested in the ordinary people of whatever country I was in.”
I understand I will never achieve the brilliance of Dervla Murphy and that is fine, we all have to have people we look up to. So long as I find stories hidden in the places I go to I will keep sharing them with readers.
To read any of my published travel articles head for the relevant page on the blog from the menu at the top.
2 thoughts on “Travel Writing That Tells a Story is not a Guidebook”
Heartening to hear; this is the kind of travel writing that I love to read and aspire to write.
However, as a blogger, I see so many of the ’10 Things to Do in…’ type posts. Apparently SEO and readers like them.
For me, the fascination is very much in the ordinary, which can be so extraordinary if you take the time to observe closely.
Your stories are always compelling and I really enjoy reading them. Thank you for sharing.
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Thank you. I agree and you put that so very well, the ordinary can be so extraordinary if you take the time to look. I am happy that not everyone is being led by SEO, as with travel I like to seek out those blogs that buck the trend and say something different.
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