This is one of the best guides to any kind of writing that I've run across -- and by far the best to the difficult craft of travel writing. I've used it in my classes this summer and have been recommending it to every writer I know.
The chief author, Don George, is himself a traveler, travel writer, travel editor and teacher of travel writing, and all his experience comes into play in this compact, well-organized book.
The basics are all there, but the book goes far beyond them, adding a short history of travel literature; an outline of the ``quintessential qualities'' a travel writer needs (not least flexibility, frugality and passion); detailed advice from successful writers and major editors; even a list of travel-literature classics.
This book is destined to be a classic of its own -- one I wish I could have turned to when I was setting out in the field 25 years ago. And, like Lonely Planet's guidebooks, it's compact enough to slip into a backpack and take on the road, in case the muse hits -- as it too often does -- on a distant beach or mountaintop.
-- Catherine Watson, former travel editor of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, is the author of ``Roads Less Traveled -- Dispatches from the Ends of the Earth'' (Syren, 2005).
This book is both sobering and inspiring, but most importantly, practical. Starting from an important place, "What It Takes To Be a Travel Writer," this may well convince you that travel writing isn't really a dream job for most people. Relationships with close friends can be strained, travel isn't as fun when it's a job, pay isn't usually too great, and there is such a thing as burning out from traveling too much. Some travel writers even forget to stop taking notes when they're on an actual vacation.
From there, the book delves into the practical aspects of travel writing- finding your story, getting published, using technology in your field research. This knowledge should give you confidence that you can make your dream a reality, provided you live simply, have realistic expectations, and market your work strategically.
Probably what makes the book the most useful is that it is just packed with interviews of working travel writers- about ¼ of the book- and this ensures that you will have multiple perspectives on what travel writing is about.
I was torn between buying this book and the Travel Writer's Handbook, which was also rated well last time I checked. But it seemed the past reviewers for this book were more articulate, and so I presume they were actually writers...
If I can't get published after reading this book, then I should give up.
Don George has written the best book I've read about travel writing. Not only does it deal with nuts and bolts issues of preparing for the trip and writing the story, it inspires the reader with the many interviews of working writers. The chapter about finding the focus of your story is one of the most practical and useful that I have read. Following his advice about crafting the story won't only improve your travel stories, but your writing in general.
Also included in the book are seven examples of 'good' travel writing and many suggestions for other travel stories and authors to read.
This isn't a pie-in-the-sky, get rich quick book. Mr George and the writers interviewed are very clear that you have to work hard and that you won't likely be able to support yourself only as a travel writer. It does make you feel that you can be published and gives many useful suggestions about how to do so.
Finally, Mr George provides and extensive list of resources in the USA, The UK, and Australia. He even includes sample release forms.
I only have two minor complaints about the book. The seven examples of good writing would have been more useful if Mr George had provided specific commentary about them. That said, he did use several as examples when he was discussing the opening and ending of articles and readers should be able to see the stories merits after reading the book. My other complaint is that the book's font was small. Maybe I'm getting old or need new glasses, but I found myself squinting at times.
But don't let either of these minor complaints stop you from buying this book - it's great. Thank you Don George and Lonely Planet.
So you're ready to dive into TRAVEL WRITING? Better see what's floating in the pool first.
Let me be the first to thank Don George and friends for having done us all the favor of creating a Lonely Planet offering for aspiring travel writers. It truly does contain a wealth of helpful hints and contact information for beginners. In fact, my copy has a rainbow mohawk sprouting from the colored Post-its I've tabbed important pages with. But here also lies its greatest flaw. A well planned book should not require the reader to create a haphazard hairpiece to augment its index. This one does.
Of George's eight chapters, fully five of them contain interviews with various authors, totaling 65 pages. I enjoyed them all, but they act as hurdles to readers using the index and should have been contained in an appendix. Further, some of the responses overlap, creating redundant reading.
Along that same line in chapter four, "The Art & Craft of Travel Writing," Don George presents a section called "Five Compelling Beginnings," showing how to hook readers with a good lead. But then a problem arises in chapter five, "Examples of Good Travel Writing," when George shows how to unhook his own readers by using all five of those same beginnings (along with their middles and ends) as examples of great completed stories. I felt as if I'd been had. After reading seven example magazine articles, where one would have sufficed, we finally got back to business. (For my previous three paragraphs I'm subtracting 1 star)
My final admonition: Practice what you preach.
Author Don George states in chapter four, "There is simply no excuse for getting your facts wrong, and you should not expect sympathy (or future work) from an editor if you do.Read more ›