“Title your story with a numbered list of things to do or see and it will help sell your travel article.”
At least that was what Doug, the writing instructor told me a couple of years ago in a semester-long college course for wannabe writers on how to get published, primarily, in magazines.
(Historical note: a couple of years ago there were probably a lot more magazines to get published in. Besides, it’s not that I’m not good enough or too lazy to make the effort, there’s just all this blogging, and Facebooking, and Tweeting to be done.)
Scan a rack of magazines and you will likely see dozens of examples, such as,
“10 ways to guarantee that sexy blonde at the bar will go home with you tonight.”
or, in the case of a travel-related story,
“20 secret beaches that no one in the world knows about.”
(I used to see that last one a lot about windsurfing locales and I would wonder, really…how many secret beaches are there left?)
The concept of these lists became a lot more popular with the publication of 1000 Places To See Before You Die book and TV series and the movie The Bucket List.
And just today I was perusing the October National Geographic Traveler magazine—which I lust to be published in my dreams—and in a huge font, the cover story is advertised as 50 Places of a Lifetime. They go so far as to even provide an actual checklist as if you were in the grocery store picking up a carton of eggs, a gallon of milk, and a magazine off the check-out line that promises how to get a date with a sexy blonde at the bar.
But, of course, the travel checklist is a little more involved than that, and a hell of a lot more expensive to pursue (unless maybe you marry that blonde and end up in an alimony situation down the road).
Personally, I eschew participating in an almost competitive form of world travel.
Well, most of the time.
On our 2009 Tour of Spain adventure you have been following my wife and I (you are all up to date on my posts, right?) as we traverse the beautiful Spanish countryside and visit numerous iconic landmarks, between many bottles of wine and plenty of plates of pintxos (tapas).
One stop provided me an opportunity to compare writing notes with one of the world’s most respected writers, as I rubbed shoulders with Ernest Hemingway in his old haunt at the Iruna Cafe in Pomplona, where his classic book, The Suns Also Rises, takes place. (And as you can see, I did not let him get a word in edgewise.)
And, I would not be considered the true adventure travel writer that my homemade business card promotes me as, if I did not don a colored scarf and run down the narrow streets ahead of the dozens of angry, massive, dangerous long-horned bulls.
It just happened to be nine months ahead of them. (We were there in October and they run in July).
Hey, I said I was a wannabe adventure travel writer, not a suicidal ex-wannabe travel writer.