The summer travel season has begun. Have you considered writing a travel book printing project based on your summer adventures? If you want to write and publish a travel book, here are five tips:
1. Prepare yourself. Don’t try to recreate your travels from memory. Did someone on the bus say something that made you laugh? Write it down. Carry a notepad with you or dictate into your smartphone. Be ready to record your voyage in a way that will be meaningful once you start writing. Take pictures to help you describe various settings. A recent visitor to Hong Kong saw an ad in the ferry and terminal about a dance concert entitled, “Refugees of the Septic Heart.” Intrigued by the unusual, possibly mistranslated use of the adjective, he wanted to remember it for future reference, so he took a quick picture. You’ll notice a difference in how you record your travels when you intend to write about them for your travel book printing project.
2. Have a compelling angle. A travelogue about your trip to China won’t sell. But a story about how you overcame the language barrier to become the “adopted son” of an elderly Chinese couple might be compelling enough. A “we went here, then we went there” narrative about your fishing trip to Peru might be exciting to you, but the average angler would be more interested in why you chose Peru, how you would compare fishing in the U.S., or life lessons you learned there. Other compelling features of a great travel book printing project include such things as: being the first to conquer XYZ, actually doing something that never gets checked off others’ bucket lists, doing something in a completely different way (New York to Las Vegas in a Rickshaw), and offering helpful tips (How I Retired in Costa Rica at Half the Cost). These are fictitious book titles waiting to be written.
3. It’s always about people. The most interesting travel books include plenty of content about people — their appearance, relationships, attitudes, manner of speech, and emotions. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing about a solo hike to Death Valley and you encounter no other human beings, your story needs to include a great deal of humanity — your own, if no one else’s.
4. Details, but not too many. Your story needs to move from point A to point B. If you want to pause to give a full description of Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, you are free to do so. But remember that your storyline needs a certain pace in order to maintain the reader’s interest. You may be proud of the fact that you’ve found the perfect words to describe a particularly glorious part of the world, but don’t sacrifice your story on the altar of descriptive language.
5. Be yourself. The way you talk to friends and family is your genuine voice. Look at your e-mail “sent” box if you were in touch with people via e-mail while on your trip. How did you describe your adventures? Write well, but be genuine. You have a certain way of communicating that is unique to you. Make use of your own personal style.
6. Okay, here’s a bonus tip: Have fun! You’re going to re-live your adventure as you write. Enjoy the experience and let it flow into your writing.
Copyright 2015, Charles J. Chamberlain