I’m not a big traveler. If I want to take a trip, it’s usually to visit family or friends—or to soak up the sun on a beach. Backpack across Europe? Adventure through nature? Not exactly my idea of a vacation. Taking a road trip? Navigating the airport? I usually find it boring, annoying, or downright awful.

But lately, I’ve been thinking about the idea of a journey. Travel is more than just the destination. The process of getting somewhere is often rich with new and memorable experiences. And it has the power to transform us—or in the case of our stories, it’s an opportunity for our characters to reach a turning point, learn, and grow.

luggage

Photo by twentymindsomething

From Point A to Point B

Make travel a part of your story, and you’ll instantly set things in motion—literally and figuratively. Traveling is a process. It takes time and involves change.

Sending your character on a journey forces him to encounter conflict, meet new people, and be a part of a different setting. It moves your character out of his comfort zone. It turns his comfortable world into an uncomfortable one.

And that’s when interesting things happen.

If you—and your character—are stuck, try integrating travel into your story. Here are a few questions to consider:

Destination: Where is your character going?

Motivation: Why is she going there?

Mode of transportation: How is she getting there?

Conflict: What difficulties and challenges will she encounter on the journey?

Luggage: What does she take with her—physical items and emotional baggage?

Emotions: How does she react at the start, to the twists and turns along the way, and at the destination?

Change: How does she change over the course of her journey?

Planning out these elements will help you craft a unique story, one that has meaning and fits into the larger narrative. Your character may not know all the answers to these questions from the start, but they allow you as the author to guide the process. And who knows—perhaps you’ll end up surprising yourself as you write, as you travel along on this journey.

How does travel influence your characters and your stories?

PRACTICE

Write for fifteen minutes about a character taking a trip or traveling somewhere. Consider the questions above and really focus on the journey itself.

When you’re finished, please share your practice in the comments section. And if you post, please respond to some of the other comments too!

Melissa Tydell
Melissa Tydell
Melissa Tydell is a freelance writer, content consultant, and blogger who enjoys sharing her love of the written word with others. You can connect with Melissa through her website, blog, or Twitter.