Today FZ readers are in for a real treat–insider advice from a seasoned travel editor–Celeste Heiter. Find out how to get published, what travel editors are looking for and get some advice on polishing your prose. Thanks to Celeste for crafting this piece specifically for FZ readers! – Catherine L. Tully
A Travel Guide Editor’s Inside Tips for Writing a Great Travel Essay
By Celeste Heiter
Having just finished editing the manuscript for To Japan With Love, A Connoisseur’s Guide, a travel anthology that features more than sixty contributors (including your Freelance-Zone hosts Catherine Tully and Joe Wallace), I have much to say on the subject of writing a travel essay.
In seeking contributors for To Japan With Love, I received nearly 200 essays, but only about half of them made it into the book. And while some were real gems and were nearly perfect upon submission, throughout the selection process, I also had some hard choices to make, with the most common eliminator being: What’s the point of this essay? What does it offer the reader? And in many cases, the answer, sadly, was: Nothing. Although I was more than willing to work with contributing writers in developing essays that had great potential, and I even did the rewrites myself on some of them, in many cases (to borrow a phrase from Gertrude Stein), “there was no there there.” Some essays simply lacked purpose.
Others, while technically well written, were far too linear. “First we went here and saw this. Next we went there and did that. Then we went home.” Some stories lacked focus, and instead included every detail of the writer’s travel itinerary and little else. And some failed to follow editorial guidelines. They were too long, too short, too encyclopedic, or they were off topic; and some were even downright negative in tone and perspective.
Good travel writing comes naturally to some writers, however, for those who don’t have ‘the gift’, I also believe that there is a basic formula that will turn a lackluster travel essay into something truly worth reading. Here’s how: Continue reading Insider Advice From A Travel Editor