Are You There Yet? – Tip on Writing Description

It’s not a scam that ‘Frequent Flyer’ miles can be turned into magazine subscriptions. Over a year ago we received an ‘opportunity’ to cash in our low accumulation of frequent flyer miles for free subscriptions to six different magazines. We have spurts of flying and with COVID it didn’t look like we were going to amass an appreciable number so we took the fortuitous plunge. (Note: even if you don’t fly often, there’s no cost to enrolling in a frequent flyer program and racking up some benefits however minimal).
Of course the choices were limited and really, we didn’t need six but that was beside the point, they were free. It turned out to be more plus than minus, unless you ask my husband who finds the plethora of magazines too random and disorderly. So, correction, I enjoy the constant flow of new periodicals to read, partly because being forced to choose from a list, we signed up for a wide variety of topics from basic house, life and health topics to architecture and travel.

It is on that last one that this post is really about. “Travel +Leisure” magazine includes beautiful photography of far away and near places. Like a novel, articles transport the reader to another place and inspire the dream of travel. That is the purpose of the magazine. The writers of these articles must not only be great travelers but also excellent writers of description, both of people and places.

In an article about Venice describing stairs that were submerged, a writer says “…the topmost would be clean and wet from the splashing waves, the next slippery green with algae, the rest either encrusted with sea life, like a tidal pool, or completely hidden by oozy seaweed that swayed in the current like poor Ophelia’s hair.”1

Are you there? Do you hear the water lapping up on those stairs?

People are introduced with phrases like, “a slight woman with a penchant for high fashion”. In the context of Italy, do you need any more to picture her?

Want to improve your writing on describing places and people? Go to your library or newspapers , read the travel section and note how these non-fiction writers draw you into a place you’ve never been. Learn the ‘magic’ and be a writer that transports readers to the world you create. It’s a wonderful skill if you master it and sorely needed at times like these when a break from the current world can be just what gets some of us through.

Read on! Learn on! Write on!


1 – Travel + Leisure December 2020 “Venice”

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