Friday Tips – Travel Writing

Grand Palace Bangkok
Grand Palace Bangkok

What is common to both good fiction and travel writing?  Read Benji Lanyado, Guardian writer and blogger’s valuable advice on  what should be every new writer’s mantra Show Don’t Tell.

‘My golden rule when writing a piece is to include as much visual description as possible. It’s easy to presume a lot, but your readers don’t know what you’ve seen. So explain it as vividly as possible. Don’t ever describe something as “characterful” or “beautiful” – this doesn’t mean anything to anybody but you. Describe things as if you were explaining them to a blind person. To say a building is “old” isn’t good enough; explain the colours, the peeling stucco, the elaborate, angular finishes on windowsills, the cleaning lady in a faded blue smock who was leaning out of a second-storey window with a cigarette dangling from her mouth. There is a thin line between elaborate, colourful, evocative writing and pretentious tosh, but it’s better to lean towards the pretentious tosh side of the spectrum than to be dull and presumptuous.
’

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Absolute Bollywood!

vbsd0070_ntscEvery now and then when I am writing, my mind seeks a diversion from the  task of smoothing back story, building plot and fleshing characters.  I wander, flick through the DVDs. Should I ? The movie Slum Dog Millionaire  is in my hand, why not you deserve a coffee and a break.

I know a movie break is simply my way of resolving my creative tension.   It does not help overcome my impasse.

I read the synopsis; the word BOLLYWOOD captures me, now that’s a sound with a chipper rhythm.    Balderdash/Bollywood both trip of the tongue so nicely. It’s a word that surely has a broader appeal than simply a noun to describe Indian movies.  An encompassing adjective I think.

‘That’s sheer bollywood,’ said the lawyer jamming his wig hard on his head, his eyes flinty with anger.

‘Naughty, naughty you keep your bollywood to yourself,’ she said with a saucy smile.

I see white letters high on a hill in Bangladesh surrounded by expensive homes or is that sheer bollywood in my thinking?

And I’m back in my world again wanting to write but first I think I might go up and get into the belly dance outfit and jiggle around the lounge.  That’s all for today, that’s your bollywood lot!

War Within

There is a battle raging within me when I write with the end result in mind of  readers praising my work. My rapacious and fearful ego jigs around in my head, denigrating each hard-earned, hard-worked para’ that appears on the screen.  

My mind runs in circles. Use the thesaurus. Surely that’s not grammatical?  For God’s sake  you can’t write that it’s politically incorrect. You are so-00 ancient history!  Another cliché, really! And the delete key runs hot.

The attachment to achieving validation is my central focus and it cripples me as a writer.  I cannot write with you in mind, it is too hard.  It fills me with fear that I will not live up to your expectations.

The authentic flow of expression comes only when I change the vision of the end result. When I write for the joy of writing. When I write intuitively – to please me, no one else.

Yes I have to be realistic about my work but editing can come once I have the words down on paper.  If I start with the premise that my writing is not good enough then my subconscious will try to prove it every time I sit in front of the computer.   But if I embrace a state of innocence, the joy of words and telling a story, without  the pressure of wanting, or, trying to achieve, I can write freely. That’s when the good stuff happens.