The whole point of the TNT Travel Writing Awards is to unearth new writing talent. It’s for people who love travel and can express themselves well in words. Here are a few tips to ensure your entry stands a chance of making the cut:
• Always remember that travel writing is travel journalism.
• Your piece should be a travel story based on reportage. Good stories need to be built on good foundations, solid facts and interesting ideas.
• Just because your mates like your travel emails, doesn’t mean they should be published or that they will appeal to a wider audience. Try not to be too self-indulgent. Your story should be about a place, an experience and/or the people you meet it’s not about you, so keep the use of “I” to a minimum.
• Look for a theme or angle and stick to it. Don’t try and cram every little aspect of your trip into 1000 words. Instead, pick a corner of a city, a museum, an experience or a person and write about this smaller detail rather than the bigger picture.
• Start with a gripping/unusual/engaging first paragraph. Don’t start your story at the airport – unless you’re being arrested.
• Keep your style and language consistent throughout the piece, and avoid repeating yourself. Quotes can really add colour and credibility to stories but make sure they are based on fact and not hearsay.
• Make sure you are inspired and interested in your subject. And research it fully before sitting down to start writing.
• Be critical of your own work. Write and re-write it if necessary. Just because there is a 1000-word limit doesn’t mean you have to write 1000 words. TNT regularly publishes travel writing of 600-800 words in length and these stories are just as good sometimes better than longer pieces.
• Spell check your work and ensure it is grammatically sound. Writers who use “its” instead of “it’s”, and “their” instead of “they’re” or “there” stand a good chance of having their work scrunched up and used as a fire starter.