Tuesday, June 11, 2013

How to spot lazy a.k.a. mediocre travel writing

Travel writing seems easy: Go there, do that, write about it (and don't forget to sprinkle the superlatives among the facts and figures).

But there is good travel writing. And there is lazy travel writing.

Now Peter Greenberg, travel editor of American broadcaster CBS News, has helpfully provided 10 top tips on how to spot — and avoid — lazy travel writing. Here they are in bullet-point form:

1. Most Travel Writers Are Not Journalists

2. Most of Them Aren't Good Writers

3. They Are More Focused on the Fact They Got to Travel Than Why They Are Traveling

4. They Are More Focused on the Destination Than the Experience

5. Most of the Pieces Written Are Based on Price, Not Value — or Cost, Not Worth

6. So Much of Travel Writing Reads Like Bad Brochures

7. Most Travel Writing is Obsessed with Product, Not Process

8. Tell Me Something I Don't Know

9. Introduce Me to Someone I Don't Know, But Should

10. Stop with the Lists!

Read Greenberg's trenchant post in its entirety here: "The 10 Problems I Have with Lazy Travel Writing".

  • For what it's worth, here's the link to one of my travel pieces, which was published in the Khaleej Times after my return from a visit to Malaysia: "Blast from the past: Travels in Malaysia". I shudder to think what Peter Greenberg would have made of it.
  • And, again, for what it is worth, the two most absorbing travel books I own and have read are Travels with Herodotus, by the great Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski, who began his life as a foreign correspondent in India, and Paul Theroux's The Happy Isles of Oceania: Paddling the Pacific, the only travel book I have read twice.

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