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One of the more nebulous and difficult questions I get from time to time as an editor is simply: How do you write a story? or What are you looking for when you write a story?

I think part of this question points to a mentality we have as travelers that stories are always about “us.” That the story is simply how it feels right now wherever we happen to be, or wherever we’re planning to go next.

What I try to show in this short movie above is that the question gets easier to answer when you begin looking at stories not as what’s happening to you necessarily, but something you build for others out of the material around you.

Stop for a moment and ask yourself: What are the external or tangible materials in your experience (and the experience of those around you) right now? I’m talking about the literal street you’re on, the mountains in the distance, the smog settling in the valley, the traffic on a Monday morning.

Now consider the internal materials, those intangible things such as your motivations, fears, expectations, emotions, preconceptions–and those of the people around you. Your backstory. Your reasons for traveling in the first place.

When you begin layering these things on top of each other, they can begin to form a much stronger, more layered ‘structure’ than a simple blog or report of what’s currently happening to you.

Stay tuned for a new video later this week where I talk about the “breakthrough” moment, the real ignition of a travel story.