The best answer I can offer to those seeking advice on how to write a jaw-dropping, heart racing travel story would be to just write it the same way you would tell a friend: in your own voice.
Finding a Voice
Finding one’s voice is probably the most elusive stage in story-telling. But when the writer is comfortable in using his/her own voice, the story is shaped to a free-flowing art form. It has the ability to entertain, inform, and control (to a certain point); the writer has the power to make the reader imagine – and in an almost contriving way – determine how the reader should imagine.
Writing is a powerful tool, especially when the narrator is an expert guide.
What is the “Voice?”
If you’ve attended a Creative Writing 101 class, you probably heard your Professor repeat the mantra “Find Your Voice” thousands of times. The voice is the essence of the story. It is this simple narrative technique that distinguishes scientific papers from exciting travel stories – well, sort of.
Voice is you. You are the voice. You embed yourself in words. It’s like sharing a bit of your innermost feelings and thoughts to convey a particular tone or embody a character.
Voice contains the personality you want to convey in a piece of writing. Say you want to write about the economic spiral in Greece, you wouldn’t use an eighth-grade vocab or slang but rather utilize economic terms with a more sophisticated choice of words and/or analogies.
Effectively using voice in a travel story draws the reader closer to who you are and how you are experiencing your journey. There is a connection between reader and writer because the writing isn’t technical, it’s personal.
The lights nor sounds from the police brought this party remotely close to ending.
It’s obvious to me now. Miami is filled with those things I call party freaks. The lights nor sounds from the police brought this party remotely close to ending.
You can see the distinction in tone between the two sample phrases. The first one is just a simple explanatory sentence, while the second one gives more information about who the reader is and feels.
The second phrase allows the reader to make certain observations about the author. In the line “It’s obvious to me now”, the reader wasn’t aware prior to the moment when the police arrived about how he felt about something, that something being Miami citizens. And his comment, “filled with those things” he objectifies the people, by the way he refers to people as “those things”. It may seem that he holds some ill-will or superiority over the so-called “party freaks.”
Voice allows the reader to make mental notes or observations about who the narrator is and what role he plays in the story. The voice constructs the good and the bad guys. It’ll construct who you are when you’re retelling a travel adventure that you’ve experienced. So make sure you set the right voice for the story if you wish to convey yourself in a good or evil light; because a few choice words can make people shy away or come closer.
Crafting Your Voice
It’s difficult to craft your voice. The reason being is that this technique (and yes I know, if it’s a technique then it should be improved upon) comes naturally, but it isn’t something tangible that can be crafted like grammar or transitions. The only way that I know in creating an effective and convincing Voice is to keep working on crafting your writing. The voice will come naturally when your writing improves on setting tone, character development, etc.
Tips in Finding Your Voice
- Just begin writing. Don’t give yourself a set goal or expectation, just write to write and your true voice will ring out.
- When you’re done writing, read your piece out loud. By hearing your writing you’ll hear how your voice gives your piece body and shape. Here is where you may edit words to keep your voice fluid and continuous throughout that piece.
Just a few travel stories that use great voice narrations:
Rocky Ride to Kao San Road – the story takes place in a taxi in Thailand. The characters are rich and the narrator is fun to watch.
The Okavango Safari – Taken place in Botswana, Africa, the narrator takes us to exhilarating journey into the wild
Guns and Frivolity in Cambodia – A fun adventure about experiencing the underbelly of Cambodia tongue-in-cheek excursions.
This ends the chapter on how to write a travel story: Finding Your Voice. Learn more by reading more. Read examples of travel stories to improve your writing.
Do you change your voice to fit a certain theme? Or do you carry the same voice throughout different story topics / situations?