Friday, June 5, 2015

The pen-toting fools!

I have quite frankly had enough of these newbies rising every other month with fresh "perspective" on destinations for the travel magazine whose content I manage. The fact is, there is no "perspective" and should I find a hint of it, it definitely is not "fresh". Sitting down to edit someone's story is nothing short of hacking off my arm. Unable, either to reach out to the writer to question their understanding, or to find any solace or help from office, it makes for a very stressful period. I have listed, for my benefit, as well as for all editors in the world, a few basic points that you must keep in mind while penning your travel experience.

Headline, intro, text - If you still need to be told that all stories require a headline and that a writer's suggestion for headline always takes the precedence over the editing teams, you shouldn't be writing. Kindly always follow the headline with a short (one to two line lead-in about what you destination is, where it is located and at least one standalone feature of it - for example: Bikaner in Rajasthan is a great destination to spot camels running along the sand by the train tracks. I stopped here a while to see what else the town holds in its fold). You can now start the text for the story.

Past, present, future - If your travel plans are made of dreams, kindly let them stay there. It is easy to lose track of time in a dream sequence, in reality editing tense after every sentence is a serious bummer. It requires a little effort from your end as most writers I know prefer to break their writing, thus increasing the chance of changing tense. Most writer go back and run through their articles, scrutinising them to avoid mistakes.

Fact check - There has been a new breed of writers who procrastinate writing till the last minute and then rush through the articles without checking facts. The temple you are writing about is 1,500 years old because the tour guide said so, really? Most protected monuments have boards carrying details of the monument, click a picture of them and keep them for reference while writing your story. A lot of Indian cities have undergone change in names, kindly mention your preferences if you have not included the updated names in your copy.

Poetic Licence - It's quite one thing to use poetic licence to expand and elaborate your emotions while writing a travelogue. It is quite another to use the same to hint at the facts. For example: The moon seemed so low that I could literally touch it - You cannot touch the moon from planet Earth, period.

Literal translations - English is not our primary language and no one will penalise you for a fault here and there but to use idioms and popular sayings from a local language and translate it word by word into English and apply it to your sentence is simply wrong. I have not balded my head and I will not have it hailed upon. Go figure!

I, me, myself - This one is probably a style bias but editing copies that have too many "I" in it feels strange. I went here, I did this, I saw this and then I thought that I did not like it. There are many ways to express your travel experiences, narrating everything from your perspective will surely get boring after 500 words.

The insufferable know-it-all - There are travellers and then there are these. Quite sure you have met the kind of travellers who keep telling you that your trip to a place was incomplete because you didn't go to that particular spot and face this particular direction! Yes, the know-it-all are always out to ruin every travellers joy of exploration by thrusting their own limited experience into everybody's faces. Reading their articles gives me depression and I cannot, for the love of life, understand why anyone would want to publish such nonsense.

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