Dialogue was not always an important part of travel writing. For a long time the genre was largely objective, concerned more with facts, figures and geography than people.
It took writers like Paul Theroux to show how dialogue could be used both effectively and evocatively. It helps, of course, that Theroux is also a novelist. “When you are writing fiction you pay attention to what people say and how they look,” he told me in an interview. “You get the texture of life.” It’s that texture you’ll want to bring to your writing.
Good dialogue can bring a scene in even the shortest of stories to life. Dan Linstead, a former editor of Wanderlust, gave a great example in his article about travel writing tips. “Look! There! The tiger is on the prowl,” whispered Joseph. Or: “We could see the tigers heading off hunting.”
The first example is clearly so much more interesting to read and conveys the same information, but with more colour and excitement. Dialogue gives personality to the people in your story and conveys important information and moves your story along in a punchy way.
Here’s how you can use it more effectively...