1. Ricardo Ribeiro
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    Ricardo Ribeiro New Member

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    Travel Writing - Methodological Problem - ideas, suggestions, thoughts welcomed

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Ricardo Ribeiro, Jan 21, 2013.

    I am in the process of writing my first book, but I am struggling with some hard decisions regarding its structure. As a fairly seasoned traveler I wanted to share my knowledge and my experience, with a strong emphasis on the human aspects. Most of the focus goes to the people I met along my odysseys. Anyway, this is what has been ruining my sleep: I do travel since 2005. Intensively. Every year I do an average of 4 or 5 trips. That's a lot of memories, traveling journals, stories to tell. Now... how shall I present this on paper? I have a few options but to be honest I find none of them satisfactory. Let's see:

    1) I do select the best moments and I just tell them, basically with no connection between them.

    2) I do write a huge book, around 600 pages. Not really a good idea huh?

    3) I write a few different volumes. A bit boring for a potential reader. Besides, I don't know if I can wait all the time needed for this.

    4) I synthesize a LOT. I think it's too much. Perhaps the high amount of stuff which will be left behind makes this a bad idea too.

    I just don't know how to solve this dilemma and come out happy. Any ideas, suggestions or thoughts on this are extremely welcomed.

    Ricardo

    P.S. - Please consider that I will be writing for a small market - the Portuguese market, so any decision must take this in consideration.
     
  2. Bimber
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    Bimber Contributing Member

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    well am no pro...but the way i would approach this is to listen to your inner voice as in the writer in you,what is it that you want to share with the reader what would make you happy...
    Someone will always find something boring just as someone else will find it interesting you can't please everyone but at least try to please yourself i always say :)
     
  3. ulster
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    ulster Member

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    I'd lean towards #1 or #3.

    I agree with Bimber about your inner voice, so maybe just start writing and see where it ends up. You will probably end up answering your own question. Good luck!

    ps - Why do you think you will be writing for a small market? If it's well-written, the Internet will bring your book all over the globe.
     
  4. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    What's your goal in writing this? What kind of story are you trying to tell? What is it that you want the reader to be grabbed by? Since you are torn among various options that include a multi-volume project (and, hint, any option that includes the phrase "boring for the reader" should go directly into the bin if you are hoping to be published) and a high degree of synthesis, I'd say you probably haven't worked it out, yet. You could just start writing, as others have suggested, and see how it goes, but I think that might only be wasting your time and postponing the decision, which must be made.

    Have your travels been extensive in one particular area, so that your writing could bring new understanding about the people there? What kinds of discoveries have you made that others would find interesting? Or is it the dislocation of travel and the lack of permanence that you want to explore? As in travel, in writing you have to decide where you are going to go before you can decide how you are going to get there.

    Good luck.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    bom dia, ricardo!

    ...you could... many travel books are structured this way...

    ...right... a terrible idea!...

    ...not a good idea, since the first one would have to be a runaway bestseller for any paying publisher to take on the sequels...

    ...'synthesize' meaning what?... combining events/experiences?... or did you mean 'synopsize' as in giving only the highlights?...

    ...does that really make any difference?... will those readers be any less interested in learning about foreign places and people?...

    ...my best advice is for you to do your homework and study the bestselling travel books, find a style that works best for what you have to offer your readers...

    ...the first decision you must make is whether you want to write a highly personal memoir that lets readers share your experiences, or a standard travel book that introduces readers to places and peoples they may never get to see/meet in their own lives... or, if you're capable of pulling it off successfully, a combination of both...

    ...you seem to have a lot to offer... i have been traveling and living all over the world [including a brief stop in portugal] since 1972, so can relate perfectly to what you want to write about... feel free to drop me an email if you'd like to compare notes...

    love and hugs, maia
    maia3maia@hotmail.com
     
  6. Ricardo Ribeiro
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    Ricardo Ribeiro New Member

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    Dear Friends,

    As a newcomer to this community I must admit that I am positively surprised by the support I got in this first topic, both in quality and quantity. Than you so much to all of you.

    As advised I did write for a while, letting it roll. After 20 pages of manuscript I came to a conclusion: at this pace, options 1 and 4 were out. I needed 20 pages to tell the stories and tales of a few days in Sarajevo. Option 2 is too bad. So I will embrace option 3 even if no further volumes will come next. So the current book will be only about my traveling experience in the Balkans. I spent a total of two months wandering there, in two different trips, which will both be included in the book.

    Some of you minimized the issue of writing for a small market. No, it's far more important than you think. It means that there is no space for particular approaches, because, there you go, there is only enough people to buy generic. I mean, if you have 600 million potential readers, you can write about the wonders of life in the mountains of Bulgaria. You will have enough readers to sell this: people who are interested in Bulgaria; Bulgarian readers who can read English; people whose roots lay in Bulgaria; people who plan to travel to Bulgaria. You name it. Now... try to write it for my market. You will find nothing of this. Apart a few individuals who will be going to Bulgaria... most probably to some resort. Nada! No books to be sold.


    "...the first decision you must make is whether you want to write a highly personal memoir that lets readers share your experiences, or a standard travel book that introduces readers to places and peoples they may never get to see/meet in their own lives... or, if you're capable of pulling it off successfully, a combination of both... "

    Maya, this is indeed an interesting point. I believe there are a few ingredients in this kind of literature and it's the way they are combined that makes the different. Let's see:

    - Inner thoughts
    - Historical (and other) background of the places
    - Description of what is done and seen
    - Description of the interactions (conversations, attitudes, etc) with local people

    I tried to rationalize this but then I decided to write a bit and inspect how the ingredients combined. I found a fair balance, although, if I really think about it, I would like to highlight the last point. I want it to be more about people, real people. Because my traveling style is all about people... I stay with locals wherever I go. Never to a hotel, rarely to a hostel. Always with local people, and of this experience I learn a lot.

    Ricardo
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i'd be interested in knowing why you only want to write this for your local market... your english is quite good, so why restrict yourself to such a narrow readership?
     

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