Monday 2 March 2020

Book Review 'Travel Writer’s Field Guide'

 Travel Writer’s Field Guide

Phoebe Smith and Daniel Neilson

The Wilderness Conspiracy:  £15.99

Review by David Higham

 This fine book starts with the authors’ intention; to combine storytelling with travel.  They say that they will complicate this simple statement by asking and then answering a different question, ‘What makes great travel writing?’

In the opinion of this reviewer, an aspiring travel writer, this book succeeds in answering the question and provides practical guidance on achieving the task.

The authors move on to a history of travel writing and an analysis of what makes the great travel writers so good.  This section covers familiar ground but makes for an inspirational start.

The section on pitching to editors is the authentic voice of experience.  Phoebe Smith was once editor of Wanderlust magazine.  Those of us who aspire to being published in magazines need to read it carefully. What was particularly useful was the advice to understand the purpose of any article which should either be to inform, to advise, to entertain or to inspire.

The practical advice on writing gets into its stride in the fifth chapter, ‘On the Road’. This reviewer particularly enjoyed the section on writing equipment. We all have our quirks about the right notebooks and writing instruments. We are curious about how the professional writers equip themselves.

There is excellent advice on style of writing though there are many more don’ts than dos. That is probably right; there are many more ways of writing badly than writing well.

The book is right up-to-date with advice on not only how to set up and write travel blogs but also how to make them commercially successful.

The Guide is for sale and also available as a series of podcasts at its website:

The design credit for this physically pleasing book goes to John Summerton, the third member of the Wilderness Conspiracy. With its soft but sturdy cover, almost square format and curved corners, this book looks good and feels good. It is well laid out and broken up with quotes, pictures and the charming line drawings by Alex Hotchin. The book seems to encourage the reader to annotate, mark it and to make marginal notes. This is a book to read, reread, scribble in, to keep and return to often.

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