A ghost of a chance? Well, the travel-writing market actually can be very competitive. Most writers shy away from it because they see published articles from exotic places and far-away lands, not realizing that they have a great chance to sell a story themselves - with a little supernatural help! Travel magazines, newspapers, and many online vacation-oriented websites are constantly on the lookout for interesting articles. Combine that with the ever-popular lure of things that go bump in the night, and you have a wonderful recipe for a sale. Without knowing it, you probably have a restaurant, bed-and-breakfast, or country inn within driving distance from you that claims to be haunted - perfect angle for a story!
To get started, select the location that you will be writing about. It is imperative to find a place that openly advertises being haunted - otherwise, you risk a lawsuit. One of the most dramatic supernatural experiences that I've had occurred in a historic old hotel whose owners are outwardly denying it is haunted. If I were to write about that experience and identify the hotel, they might claim that I had hurt their business and accuse me of libel. To keep that from happening, it's much safer to find a place that discusses a ghost on their webpage - fortunately, the super-search engines on the Internet make that an easy feat.
Bring up your favorite search engine (I use www.google.com) and enter three keywords: your state name, and the quote-enclosed phrase "haunted restaurant." Alternately, use "haunted inn" or "haunted bed and breakfast." You will probably be given a list of webpage matches, so start sifting through them to find the ones that are official webpages for the locations. For example, if an individual has a homepage that talks about a ghost at the Big Green Restaurant in a nearby town, that's not good enough - you need to find www.biggreenrestaurant.com (just an example URL) where the business itself is advertising the fact that it is haunted.
By locating such a place, and there are many, not only have you protected yourself from a liable suit, but you have found a willing participant for your story. If the business is advertising a ghost, then any article that you write will be free publicity for them. They will be more than happy to provide you with the spiriting tales that you need.
Now that your search engine has provided you with a list of locations from which to choose, make your selection based on distance, desirability, and the ghost story that they're touting. A restaurant that's an hour away may be more desirable than one requiring a three hundred mile drive. On the other hand, an inn claiming nightly haunting activity would be much better than one with only a few apparitions reported over the years.
Do you believe in ghosts? It doesn't matter at all - to improvise Shakespeare's words, "The story's the thing." With that in mind, use the email address on your target's webpage to contact them for initial information. Set up a visit, and arrange an interview with the owner or some of the staff that has experienced paranormal activity, and be sure to ask again when you arrive. This is much easier than you'd think - when I made a similar request at the Irma Hotel in Cody, Wyoming, the manager just smiled and said, "You want to talk to Sarah. She'll be in the restaurant right after her shift, and would love to tell you a few stories!"
If your target is an inn, you may even want to spend the night, combining a little tax-deductible research with a weekend getaway. Take plenty of photographs, both inside and out of the establishment, and make lots of notes. For restaurants, be sure to order their signature dish so that you can include comments about it in your article. Another important aspect it the history of the place - most haunted locations are very old, and rich with memories. Once you have your basic information together, proceed with your article using the four W's of travel writing: What, Where, Why and When.
© 2005 Mitchel Whitington
About the Author
Mitchel Whitington is an author and speaker - visit Mitchel's website at http://www.bookconstructor.com.
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© 2002-2012, Mitchel Whitington. All rights reserved