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Jerry Camarillo Dunn, Jr.

Travel Writing (and Nonfiction)

Condensed course in nonfiction, but “on the hoof.”

Wednesday-Friday
9:00-11:30 AM
RM 269

Learn how to write an engaging, lively travel piece – and by extension any nonfiction story for publication – through a carefully structured series of lessons and exercises. You’ll discover how to organize your raw material into a story, create scenes and descriptions, and come up with sentences and words that pop off the page.

Note: The Class Handout link below leads to a large PDF that, depending on the speed of your connection, might take several minutes to appear properly. To view the document, click on the link. A blank white screen may display while the balance of the document is retrieved. Once scrolling is possible, all 23 pages should be readable. 

To download a copy onto your device:

  • On a computer, try either Option-Click (Mac) or Control-Click (PC).
  • Alternatively, try right-clicking on the link and use the resulting menu to save the file on disk.
  • On an iPad or iPhone, once the document fully appears, use the action button (the square with an arrow pointing upward) to direct the PDF to an appropriate app. If in doubt, iBooks will accept the document.

Class Handout [PDF]

Session 1: Wednesday, June 20
(Morning: 9-11:30 a.m.)

  • Commercial and literary travel writing . . . and the secrets of blending them into a successful (and saleable) travel piece.
  • In-class writing exercise: How to find the heart and core of your story.
  • Story types: In-depth look at story categories. Helps you recognize potential stories in your travels and produce pieces that will sell to editors.
  • Good and bad travel writing: Attributes your work should have (and avoid).
  • Story structure: How to construct a travel story. How to write an unforgettable lead, with analysis of many varieties. Exercise: writing a lead.

Session 2: Thursday, June 21
(Morning: 9-11:30 a.m.)

  • Story structure (continued): How to develop your narrative, write effective transitions, and end with a memorable, funny, or touching conclusion. 
  • In-depth analysis of an award-winning travel story.
  • Tricks of the trade for improving any kind of writing.
  • In-class exercises: 1) “Mining your memories” for impressions and details for your travel story; 2) writing a brief scene based on these impressions.
  • First Person: How to use (but not abuse) the “I” in a travel piece.
  • Solving beginners’ problems, including lack of focus, the “laundry list,” purple prose.

Session 3: Friday, June 22
(Morning: 9-11:30 a.m.)

  • In-class exercise: How to warm up your word sense.
  • Focus on words and phrases: Creative figures of speech. Sharpening your color vocabulary (with in-class exercise). Using foreign words, pop culture words, and the imaginative slang of subcultures.
  • Principles of good writing: Choose nouns and verbs over adjectives and adverbs. Omit needless words. Etc.
  • Develop your power of observation, essential to a travel writer: Includes in-class exercise and other exercises you can do any time.
  • Travel writer on the road: How to prepare for a working trip, explore new territory, do fieldwork, interview all kinds of people, take notes, organize your material for writing, and edit your work.
  • Travel freebies (and ethics issues), tax write-offs. 

 

Message to Students

Travel writing gives you a lifelong education in everything from architecture to zoology, and opens up a richer, deeper life for you — and your readers. My workshop takes a systematic approach for maximum learning; I recommend you come on the first day, but you’re welcome any time.

Bio

Jerry Camarillo Dunn, Jr. is a nonfiction and travel writer whose credits include more than 600 articles and 11 books, among them travel guides for National Geographic and the Smithsonian. His popular book My Favorite Place on Earth (Nat Geo), features 75 remarkable people — from the Dalai Lama to Jane Goodall to Jerry Seinfeld — revealing the places they love most. Jerry’s work has won three Lowell Thomas Awards, the “Oscars” of the field, from the Society of American Travel Writers. He has also been a staff editor-writer at National Geographic Traveler magazine, contributing editor at Islands, and editor-in-chief of Santa Barbara Magazine. He has taught Travel Writing workshops for 27 years.