Quality “travel writing” is rare since newspapers generally publish convenient information, with little concern for creativeness, when it comes to travel. It’s a common misconception that the information provided by newspapers falls under the genre of travel writing—this misconception is terribly wrong as most of the published writing is written to promote hotels, flights and tours for average tourists who don’t have time for mess-ups during their holiday.
Well-rounded travel writing, which I will call travel literature from time to time throughout this course, recreates a journey using writing techniques similar to those of fiction writing. You can think of things such as introducing characters, dialogue, developing scenes, presenting humor, destination insight, history and more. Travel writers attempt to creative three-dimensional stories, which is a different approach to providing basic travel information concerning tourism.
Even though travel writing employs occasional writing techniques from fiction writing the story must be nonfiction. The use of fiction writing techniques is merely to bring a nonfiction travel journey off the page. Creative nonfiction writing is very similar to travel writing and travel writing often falls into the genre of creative nonfiction—if you take the travel aspect out of the writing.
You will read travel writing throughout this course and often read me referring to travel writing as travel literature so please consider the two genres as the same genre.
A travel writer who comes to mind who has written excellent travel literature is Bruce Chatwin. Have read of In Patagonia if you have time. I believe it’s a must read piece of travel writing. The book is not a recommended reading for this week (please see the “suggested readings” at the end of this document).
Travel writing, or travel literature, is often in the form of a narrative with subtext. If we look at Never fear Argentina, the ‘Volunteer Worker’ is here you will see a travel narrative with highs and lows and many fiction writing techniques to bring the journey off the page. There is not a single business mentioned or any attempt to generate money from tourism. It also explores topics other than the shiny elements of travel so take note of this. Please read this travel writing—it is part of this week’s readings. I’ve provided this travel literature as I have the copyrights to the work. It also highlights some of the points I’ve raised up until now.
Hunter S. Thompson is an author who many may have heard of—author of The Rum Diary. I’ve included an article, which I feel meets the requirements of travel writing—‘DOOMED LOVE AT THE TACO STAND.’ It’s also creative nonfiction. Some may dispute that it’s travel writing; I think it’s important to read this writing as it shows clear difference to “tourism” promotional writing and helps to highlight the use of fiction writing skills for creative nonfiction. Many of Hunter S. Thompson’s journeys have are super creative nonfiction—a requirement for quality travel writing.
Read the “suggested readings” below by clicking their links. After you have done this, please feel free to raise discussion concerning the “discussion questions”. You can discuss by commenting on this thread.
Feel free to add your thoughts to the reply section below
- What does ‘travel writing’ mean to you?
- What should writing from this genre achieve?
- Can you think of any authors who you believe are travel writers?
I believe this will be enough to get everybody on their way for week one.