I got a freelance assignment from a luxury magazine.
$625 for a 1200 word travel piece. Not too shabby.
Here were the editor's remarks:
"The beginning seems insecure."
The beginning consisted of me describing the way by which I chose to travel to the location at hand: "Twirling around whilst blindfolded and then pointing at a map. It wasn't an informed decision."
What? Are you telling me there are better techniques? Like, maybe, wanting to "experience the culture found in India," or "I've always liked French food and movies, so I thought I'd go dwell in the romance of it all." Puke. I liked my creative beginning.
So, that's Lesson One: Don't, by any means, be creative. Flaccidity is key.
"You shouldn't mention that you stayed in a hostel."
Well, I did stay in an overpriced hotel one of my nights there and it was only one notch nicer than the hostel, which was a tenth of the price. So, shove it.
That brings me to Lesson Two: Writers are generally poor. They don't have lavish experiences that will jive with those of their readers. So, they should lie. Being serious here, folks. Lie.
"I don't like the part where you talk about taping pictures together."
Here I was describing a super tall building that we couldn't capture in just one picture. Therefore, we had to take two pictures and tape them together when we got home. No biggie, right?
Lesson Three: Assume that the people reading your article will never actually go to the place you describe and experience the same things you did. People read travel articles because they're interesting.*
"Don't mention how rude the people were."
They were bastards. Deal with it.
Lesson Four: If you have any inclination that the magazine cares about its readers, you're wrong. In lieu of honesty, provide fluff. Again, when in doubt, lie.
*Travel articles suck. Nobody reads them.