Thursday, December 14, 2006

Things You Shouldn't Mention if You're Writing for a Luxury Magazine

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.


Dad said...

Lot of inconvenient truth here (as opposed to Al Gore's recent docu-cartoon). I subscribe to several travel magazines. I read the pictures, some of them actually have scantilly-clad females on the beach. Travel porn? Not really. What's wrong with the twirl and point method? I have friends who have made a fortune in the stock market using this method, and they now own hostels. Of course, they own the hostels in hopes of meeting hot chicks. I guess this bolsters the claim that the locals were rude bastards.

Gigi said...

I think Courney jinxed me. We were pretty sure you didn't read. I'll have to tone down the descriptives...although you mention liking travel porn? Hmmm...

I think that might be a little, well, incestuous.

Everybody, meet my wonderful Mormon father.

Chad said...

Your editor is lame. I like the travel articles that tell me what sucked. Gives the writer some credibility in my eyes.

"Be weary of the taxi drivers, they swindle you for twice over. ...and try to see you pictures that they've taped together and tell you they're one."

Now that is quality advice!

threetoedsloth said...

See, this is why I don't want to touch magazine writing with a thousand-foot pole. They say they want a fun, creative piece, and then when you give them one they don't think it's safe enough to run. Most magazines are terrified of anything "different."