25 Feb How to get your reader to care
What’s most important in your writing is to get the reader to care – about the main character, the story, the idea. In fiction you don’t necessarily need to like the protagonist but you do need to care about him or her. That’s what keeps us turning the pages.
That’s the same for travel writing. Here, it’s you are usually the protagonist and we need to care about your journey. And we need to have a connection to the place or places you’re describing. The landscape and the history, the architecture and the art. Feeling, empathy, wonder – all engage us as readers.
Travel writing is often seen as easy. Actually good travel writing is hard to write. It’s about getting the balance of show and tell, scene and summary, place and character.
So where better to learn about these elements of storytelling than in a place renown for human emotion and physical beauty… In Italy. This August I’m teaming up with travel company Singabout and we’re launching a special writers’ retreat in a medieval village in the heart of Italy.
Writing in Mercatello 2014 is a chance to live the any writer’s dream.
For one week you can stay in an Italian palace, receive morning tuition and spend your afternoons focused on your own writing projects. It’s a chance to immerse yourself in Italian daily life and meet characters like Edigio, seen above, who was the set designer on the film set of Under the Tuscan Sun based on Frances Mayes best-selling travel memoir.
For sometime I’ve been wanting to offer longer writing retreats. What really excites me about Jen Richardson’s Singabout company is the emphasis on immersing yourself within a local culture.
Situated in the foothills of the Apennines, Mercatello is home to many artisans who still ply trades dating back to the Renaissance. The Le Marche region is less well-trod than neighbouring Tuscany; tradition and history are everywhere.
Recently I heard the American travel writer Don George talk about what makes a good travel narrative. In his words:
‘An unquenchable curiosity, a hunger of experience and connection with people. It’s about humility. We don’t impose ourself on other people. It’s about cultivating vulnerability, taking a risk, opening yourself to the people and place.’
It’s through that vulnerability – in exposing something of ourselves – that we get our readers to care. The tools of how you do this can be taught. And when put into practise in a creative environment, these techniques can be mastered.