Barbara Kingsolver: Flight Behavior

I just finished reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior and I thought it would be fun do a book review and talk about what I liked about the book from a writing perspective. My first reaction: I liked this book.

I could completely identify with the main character, Dellarobia. Kingsolver did a fantastic job of showing us her life without laying on the melodrama. This character was very aware of how her decisions had landed her in a stale marriage with two kids and a dissatisfying stint as a stay at home mom. She blames no one, she doesn’t feel sorry for herself, she simply lays out the facts of what has gotten her there and how she feels about her situation. Including how she feels when she runs toward, and wants to embrace, big mistakes. But that’s not all.

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Travel Writing Strategies: Part Three – What’s the Conflict?

We’re on a travel writing roll this month. The summer sun is making a comeback and it’s bringing along the itch to travel. While I don’t have a big plan (yet), I am looking forward to the next big adventure. And when I drag out my world map… ok, so I have a wall-sized one and it’s permanently on display. Like I was saying, when I’m gazing at the map, plotting a world tour, not once in my wanderlust-filled delirium have I envisioned the above train wreck.

Travel writing strategies include one of the biggest concepts in all writing: conflict. A lot of times, conflict gets a bum rap. It’s like, yeah, I know, there should be problems, obstacles, fractures, a pick-your-word for upset – but what exactly does that look like? Sometimes it feels like an amorphous idea when you’re dreaming up travel adventures and far flung escapades. It’s the last thing anyone wants to think about. The best advice I’ve ever gotten regarding conflict came from my thesis adviser. If you know what your character wants, you know what can come between her and getting what she wants. You can place many obstacles (conflicts) in her path. With travel writing, you’re the character and the crazy travel environment will insert lots of obstacles to getting what you want.

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Travel Writing Strategies: Part Two – Tales of Adventures Past

It’s time to take our travel writing strategies in a totally different direction. Normally, when I have conversation with people about travel writing and essays I’m working on, they’re pieces from a recent trip. Most likely, it’s the last trip I went on and I want to capture the essence of that adventure while it’s relatively fresh in my mind. With every day that passes back at home, the memory fades just a little more. What I want to talk about today is writing about a travel experience in the distant past, maybe a trip you took as a kid, or something from the first time you were in Beijing and you’ve been back several times since.

There are a few reasons one might want to look back to old travels for material.

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