It is with fear and trembling that I sit down to type an article on writing well for travel agents. I sometimes cringe when reviewing articles I have written and sent on their way. Typographical errors, clichés, grammatical mistakes – I confess the list of transgressions that I commit almost daily is long. I seldom re-read an article of my own where I don’t catch at least one mistake. Perhaps I can best be of use as a good example of a bad example. Nevertheless, I will try to give you a short list of important writing tips to remember as you begin to craft your own articles and stories.
If at all possible, and it seldom is, give yourself time to write, review and revise. The additional time spent on revision is invaluable. Mark Twain once wrote a letter to a friend in which he said that he would have written a shorter letter, but he did not have time. You will never regret the luxury of setting your writing aside and returning to it a day later for revision. If you have that kind of time available to you, however, you probably are not busy enough and should take up a hobby or get a real job.
Write naturally, in a way that comes easily to you for your first draft. When you revise, you can then organize your thoughts in a more logical, understandable structure. Pay attention to the flow of the article. Does each sentence add to your construction? Does the end flow from and tie back into the beginning like a knot?
Look closely to your word choices and eliminate unnecessary words. Omit clutter and words like “that” which creep into writing without having any meaning or purpose other than habit. When possible, shorten sentences. Don’t use large or unfamiliar word choices for their own sake, and pay close attention to the shades of meaning that words carry. Choose carefully. Buy yourself a good style guide and use it. The classic is The Elements of Style by Strunk and White.
During your first or second round of revisions, read the article aloud. You will hear mistakes and awkward construction you might miss in reading your own work. Especially avoid cliché. Use active voice and avoid gratuitous adverbs, adjectives and qualifiers.
Revisit and revise your work – preferably prior to publishing it. If you have an editor, or even a patient friend, use him.
Finally, remember that these are guidelines, not rules. An accomplished writer’s art consists of knowing the rules and how to break them.
Tomorrow: Travel Writing for Travel Agents
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