Travel Writing Conference Morning Class Descriptions

Advanced Narrative Workshop, taught by Tim Cahill
Advanced Narrative Workshop will be an intensely hands-on workshop for a small group of advanced writers. The workshop will focus on taking good writing to the next level: framing a story, finding and crafting a lede, using the right anecdotes and details, and shaping a resolution. The workshop will include writing exercises as well as close readings and critiques of material written before the class and brought by participants to the class. Note: Admission to this workshop is by acceptance only. All interested participants must submit a travel essay or article of no more than 2500 words; a limited number will be accepted. All accepted participants will be asked to bring one article or essay to the workshop for reading and critique. Please email your submission to Kathryn Petrocelli at, using "Advanced Narrative Workshop" as your subject line.

Writing for Print, taught by Spud Hilton
This workshop is designed to guide you through the process of writing a newspaper or magazine travel story from start to finish: where to go, how to find a new or inventive angle, pre-trip research, strategies for gathering information while traveling, composing a story editors will love and marketing your work. I’ll cover writing both destination narratives and service pieces, and I’ll explain what editors are looking for today, with special attention on the evolution of print, online and digital and its effect on your work. I'll also talk about writing a tight, delete-button-proof lede, editing your own work and, perhaps most importantly, how to structure your storytelling to avoid the dreaded diary rehash. There will be hands-on writing assignments and exercises. Consider this time to smooth out that piece you've been working on for months or start one from scratch. Also learn how to get the most from your writing by tailoring it to multiple platforms.

Personal Essay and Memoir, taught by Larry Habegger
The best travel stories are really stories about life, with lessons for the writer and reader about ourselves and the people and places in our still magical world. My intention in our morning sessions is to help you develop powerful stories with simple tools. We will explore the craft of the personal essay and memoir through a combination of lectures, discussion, writing exercises, and sharing our work. The concepts we cover apply equally to brief essays, short personal stories, and longer works such as full-length memoirs. We’ll start by discussing and exploring different aspects of the genre: learning to conjure up inspiration; adding emotion and weight to your work; learning how to write vivid, powerful prose; the best structure for your story; and finding a home for your work.

Writing for the Web, taught by Pam Mandel & Candace Rardon
The web can be an ideal platform for self-expression, giving novice travel writers that great feeling of sharing their stories without the usual hurdles of commercial publishing. At the same time, it’s also a viable market for selling your travel writing and growing your credibility and connections as a writer. This three-day course will cover how to set up and make the most of your own presence on the web—from the hows and whys of blogging, to online outlets on the lookout for great stories, to social media best practices. Writing for the web can help you build an audience and find new outlets for your work. Our intention is that you leave the course equipped with an understanding of the different kinds of travel writing, what does well on the web and why, where to find homes for your stories, and how to find your place in this continually shifting landscape.

Writing the Big Five, taught by Jim Benning & David Farley 
No, not lions, rhinos and the other safari all-stars. Instead, this course looks at their travel writing equivalents: magazine stories, newspaper articles, personal essays, blog posts and – with enough material – books. These are the essential five forms, and understanding them is important. Over three days, we’ll explore the craft and business of each. Topics include: how to decide which form is best for your story; how to create a compelling story arc; how to write vivid prose and avoid clichés; how to pitch stories, essays, blog posts and books -- and how writing for the web differs from writing for print. We’ll workshop your story and book ideas and help you hone them. And each day, we’ll get you writing. In-class exercises will help you unearth memories and shape them into compelling, entertaining prose.

Travel Photography, taught by Robert Holmes, Andrea Johnson, & Catherine Karnow
Over the course of three mornings, this course will introduce the concept of visual travel journalism, both still and motion, with an emphasis on creating visual storytelling.  We will assess photographic equipment, techniques and working methods; take an in-depth look at aesthetics, developing your creative vision, photographing people and working with light. This will be a highly interactive workshop with lots of opportunity for Q&A. Please note that those attending are asked to bring ten (10) photos on a flash drive for sharing in a group critique.