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Writing Travel Article
 
 
Writing Travel Article

This article will provide you with an "anatomy of an article." You will be required to use your style guides, so be sure that you have purchased new or used copies of them, or have borrowed them from the library.

Anatomy of an Article

Article writing will make up the bulk of your writing. Even if you decide to become a columnist, you must have a portfolio of good articles put together and published to qualify for that type of position, or one as a full-time staff writer. With practice, your writing will get better and become more sellable. If you start with the basic elements and expand from there, your skills will grow and flourish.

Any well-written article should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Sounds easy right? Your article also needs to be original, interesting, factual, informative, entertaining, well-written and grammatically correct. Now things are heating up. Below is a brief "article" about a local farmer's market in a fictional location:

Eggland's Fresh Food Market, a Trip Worth Taking

by Robin LoRé

Whether you're a local, or just in town for a visit, Eggland's Fresh Summertime Market is well worth your exploration time. This relatively new enterprise is the brainchild of Franny Farmer, an organic food grower from neighboring Chickenland. In 2007 she began contacting other local farms and started organizing a monthly gathering where all could sell their wares to the public in one easily accessible location. What started out as a 12-stand produce sale in August, has turned into a 100+ county wide vendor exhibit that runs every Sunday from July through September.

The Summa Maaket, as locals are fond of calling it in their pronounced Eastern Eggland drawl, boasts stands overflowing with Chickenegg County's best organic fruits, vegetables, and herbs, along with locally made pies, cookies, cakes, jams, jellies, preserves, pickles, vinegars, locally produced honey and beeswax candles, handmade herbal beauty products and, of course, farm fresh eggs! There are also stands selling locally created art, crafts, clothing, and jewelry. In addition to the take-home sale items, there are plenty of "eat and drink it now" food and beverage favorites to keep your battery charged. Yummy treats such as sweet batter-coated corn dogs, juicy turkey burgers, roasted vegetable wraps, gourmet pizza, freshly brewed coffee, flavored popcorn, fruit and vegetable blender drinks, and creamy ice cream are available at reasonable prices. Add to these delicious foods and products a wide array of entertainment from local musicians, and mini-classes on home organic gardening, pie-making and bee-keeping and you have a fun filled, all day event for all.

Eggland's summer market is open, rain or shine, every Sunday starting July 7 until September 12, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. It is located at the Mount St. Sydney Pavilion in Eggland. Admission is free. All food and wares are for cash purchase only. There's no ATM on site, so be sure to stop at one on your way to the Pavilion.

The above article is not very flashy, it doesn't describe warm ocean breezes in Jamaica or craggy mountaintops in Kilimanjaro, but it does provide three important things:

    1. A beginning. The first paragraph introduces the reader to the place of interest. It provides a brief history and sets them firmly in Eggland.
    2. A middle. The second (and the longest) paragraph describes the place/event. It gives the reader a feel for what they will experience there and what to expect from the trip.
    3. An end. The last paragraph, (the shortest) tells the reader what they need to know to access this place, and provides any pertinent and practical information that will get the traveler there and help them better enjoy their trip.

The article is also grammatically correct and well edited. It is informative and original. It is not overrun with exclamation points or semi-colons. It would be of interest to local residents and others. Grammar is as important as style, because it helps make the article readable. No matter how great your writing style is, it will always be hampered by poor grammar and editing. Because food is a part of the destination of this article, it can be re-sold to foodie magazines and food-related websites in addition to travel/public interest venues. Try to write your articles with an eye toward multiple uses and second sales.

Remember, the Elements of any Good, Publishable Article are:

  1. Beginning
  2. Middle
  3. End

And your article should also be:

Q Original

Q Interesting

Q Factual

Q Informative

Q Entertaining

Q Well-written

Q Well-edited/grammatically correct

And Lastly:

Q Avoid excessive use of exclamation points

Q Don't misuse semi-colons

Q Capitalize when required and check your rules if not sure

Conclusion

Every article you write, no matter how long, elaborate, or detailed, must have a beginning, a middle, and an end. These are the basic elements of any good story, fiction or non-fiction. Once you have the basics down and you've written several articles, your style will develop and begin to shine through. Focus first on the technical accuracy and proper form of writing, then add in your decoration.

How and Where To Sell Your Work

Interested in learning more? Why not take an online class in Travel Writing?

A query letter is the bait that either attracts or repels the attention of editors and publishers. It is vital that you learn how to properly prepare one and understand why they are important. You will be writing a lot of them in your early efforts at getting published. This section will introduce you to query letters and the basics of what to do and not do when preparing them. It also will reference you to informative books, guides and websites to help you further perfect your query-writing skills and find buying markets for your writing.

Important Definitions


Query Letter . A query is a question or a request. In this case it is a letter asking for review of a writer's article, article proposal, book or book proposal.

Publisher . One who publishes (creates, prints, etc.) magazines, newspapers, books or other reading material.

Editor . One who oversees acquisition of writing, editing of publications and decision-making for layouts and the like. One who has the power to purchase your work or not.

Literary Agent (aka Agent) . One who represents a writer and sells his or her book or proposal to publishers. Agents develop strong relationships with publishers and know their market well, thus, they are able to find the right match of publisher and writer much easier than a writer can on their own. Agents do not help sell articles, short stories or other single pieces of writing.

Rejection, rejection slip, rejection letter . These are all forms of letting the writer know that the publication, agent or editor is not interested in reading or publishing your work.

Clips . This term comes from the "clippings" writers would compile of their published work. Clips may still contain hard copies of published pieces, but they may also be compilations of digital clips, or even links to sites where work is published online.

Sidebar. This is the term used for the boxes or lists that appear in the right or left margins of magazine pages. Most magazines see these as advantageous because sidebars fill empty space, offer an "extra" to the reader and provide visual interest.

Byline . A byline is the credit given to the writer of any article. It is called a byline because it is usually the "line" after the title which reads, "by Ima Travelwriter." A byline is what you are seeking as a new writer, even if you have to write for free to get it. The accumulation of these will serve as your published clip samples that will be influential in getting you better, higher-paying assignments.

The Query Letter

Much attention and effort has gone into the dynamics of writing a good query letter over the years. Entire books, chapters, guides and web pages have been devoted to this task, with good reason. In the writing world, a query letter is akin to a resume and cover letter in the business world. With a cover letter and resume, you have one chance to convince an employer to call you for an interview. Likewise, with a query letter, you have one chance to convince a publisher or editor to request your article or proposal. It has to be as near-perfect as possible. Like any of your writing, it also has to be succinct, well written, grammatically correct and interesting. The below table features the basic, industry standard do's and don'ts for query letters:

Basic Do's and Don'ts for Creating Professional Query Letters

Do

Don't

Read issues of the magazine you are submitting to before sending a query.

Address the editor by first name unless you know him or her.

Follow submission guidelines.

Send gifts, cards, flowers or any other type of "gimmick" with your query letter.

Write to the appropriate editor for your type of article or topic.

Be rude or overly dramatic.

Make sure the name of the person you are writing to is spelled correctly.

Send queries via email unless the guidelines expressly state to do so.

Use professional letter-writing format whether you are sending via snail or email.

Call insistently to see if your query was read or received.

Include a self addressed, stamped envelope (SASE) if you are including any materials with your query that you would like returned.

Send multiple queries unless you clearly state that you are doing so.

If pictures are important to your query, send them, but keep in mind that you may not get them back, especially without a SASE.

Lie about your credentials and writing experience.

Respond promptly if asked to send along the article or proposal.

Go on and on for pages about your accomplishments.

Follow-up with ONE phone call if you have not heard anything in 6-8 weeks.

Send originals of your work.

If you sell your piece and sent multiple queries, let the other editors know that your work was accepted elsewhere.

Don't call to ask why your piece was rejected.

Here are two excellent books that will assist you in perfecting your query letter:

The Writer's Digest Guide to Query Letters, by Wendy Burt-Thomas

The Renegade Writer's Query Letters That Rock: The Freelance Writer's Guide to Selling More Work Faster, by Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell

Above is the Proper Format for Any Letter


Finding Markets for Your Writing

This is the biggest obstacle for most writers: finding someone to actually pay for and publish your work. Often, publishers and editors prefer to hire writers who have some experience or at least some published pieces. It is difficult to get anyone to take a chance on a new writer. To the despair of many, this becomes a lose-lose situation. Similar to those seeking work out of school or college, it makes little sense when employers expect experience where the chance of earning it is nil. But there is hope. And, the good news is, once you get a few pieces published, you will gain momentum and earn more and more assignments. The problem is getting those first few pieces under your belt.

The best place to start is locally and with web work. These two arenas are more open to new writers than long established newspapers and magazines that have seasoned writers clamoring for an assignment. The reason for this is that their budgets are limited, so the pay is considerably less than a large publication would pay. But that's okay, because this will turn out to be a win-win situation. You'll get highly coveted "clips" (proof of publication) and they will get, hopefully, great writing at a great price. And therein lies the secret to securing more assignments, be sure you are providing your best work, even if the pay is less, even if only your grandmother or mother will read it. You want to leave the publication with a good impression of your writing and your professionalism so that when and if they are called upon to comment on your work, they will gladly give you kudos. You may have to do a library or internet search of local publications to get submission guidelines, names, and addresses.

These two books will help you find national magazine and book publishers who may be interested in purchasing your work or in viewing your proposal once you have published a few pieces locally:

Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Publishers, Editors & Literary Agents 2009: Who They Are! What They Want! How to Win Them Over! by Jeff Herman

Writer's Market 2009, by Heather Brewer

Conclusion

Your query letter is the first impression you will make upon those who have the ability to sell your work. Be sure to put as much effort into developing your query letter skills as you put into developing your overall writing skills.

 
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