Summer Writing Course | Travel Writing

3 points
Instructor: Porter Fox
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How does a traveler become a travel writer? What makes good travel writing? Why does it matter today? This course examines and breaks down the very specific craft of travel writing.

Travel writing is narrative nonfiction, with an emphasis on setting. Concrete detail, evocative writing, character development and a solid narrative arc are all essential. This class will talk about outlining, writing in blocks, withholding, revealing and chronology. Weekly assignments will cover dialog, digression, modifiers, POV, active verbs, pacing, research, voice and present action. We will learn about ledes, nut grafs, cliffhangers and kickers while avoiding cliche, nostalgia, blocking, overwriting and the many traps mainstream travel writers fall into today.

This class uses action writing and on-location exercises to help create unique and compelling description. We will read and analyze classic travel writing—from Mary McCarthy to Holiday Magazine to John McPhee, then explore local neighborhoods and create winning story pitches to send to editors. The final project is a complete travel story, ready for publication.

Great travel stories don't tell a reader how amazing a place is. They reveal what it is like to be there. The lessons, exercises, readings and final project in this class show students how to do just that.

Tuition & Fees
Students can review tuition and fees here.

Materials Fee: $20
For questions about School of the Arts summer courses, including those concerning admissions, registration, and billing, please contact the School of Professional Studies summer team at, or 212-854-9666. With questions about specific course content, please contact Writing Departmental Representative Dorothea Lasky at

About the Instructor

Porter Fox lives, writes, teaches and edits the literary travel writing journal, Nowhere, ( in Brooklyn, NY. His fiction, essays and nonfiction have been published in The New York Times Magazine, The Believer, Outside, Men's Journal and Powder, among others. He was anthologized in the 2011 Best American Travel Writing and is currently writing a book about traversing the U.S.-Canada border, due out from Norton in 2018.
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Columbia University School of the Arts offers MFA degrees in Film, Theatre, Visual Arts, and Writing, an MA degree in Film Studies, a joint JD/MFA degree in Theatre Management & Producing, a PhD degree in Theatre History, Literature, and Theory, and an interdisciplinary program in Sound Arts.