Travelling to your story

travel, airports, writers, fiction, storytelling, where do you get your ideas, where do I find ideas, ideas for writers
Bored, tired, irritable – perfect material for writers

The whole process of travel – on public transport, not in a car – is fraught with opportunity for storytellers. 

Four flights and two train journeys in three days have made me think about the possibilities for mystery, murder, suspense and romance in the confusion of airports and stations.

Alfred Hitchcock made the most of trains in several movies, and there is the glorious example of The Lady Vanishes. Arthur Haley’s Airport, milked the drama of air travel, and the spoof Airplane! and its sequels milked the comedy potential… to the very last drop. We already have a long list of travellers’ tales, but there is plenty of scope for the rest of us.

Love and death

Think of the numbers of people at any one moment in a big airport. Staff and travellers must add up to tens of thousands of people on the move; a clever murderer could kill and get away with it, even with the hundreds of cameras watching every twitch and grimace.

The romance of two people in transit, a fleeting encounter, infinite futures… the potential is limitless. An airport sees people from everywhere in the world; the poor and the rich, the celebrated and the anonymous – crossing paths in limbo, where so much is out of their control.

Ideas factory

Airports are ideas factories. Ferries, too. The best time to watch is in the early hours, where travellers wait for hours, too tired to pretend, sleepy, out of sorts, too hot or too cold, bored and frustrated. One can spend happy hours dreaming up their stories, earwigging on their monosyllabic conversations, wondering what if and what next.

Next time you fly, give yourself extra time between connections to watch, listen and dream.


Author: Arabella McIntyre-Brown

I'm a writer from West Sussex is southern England, but after 30 years of urban life in London and Liverpool, I now live in a remote village 1,000 metres up in the Carpathian Mountains of Transylvania. My first book in Romania was published in November 2016: "Din Liverpool in Carpati: cum mi-am gasit fericirea în inima Transilvaniei". The English version, 'A stake in Transylvania' is out soon. I've also written (so far) four bilingual (En/Ro) children's books.

3 thoughts on “Travelling to your story”

  1. Totally agree Abbs, some of the best stories are about a journey…… Lord of the Rings springs to mind. Hobbit much the same. A journey actually gives you a clear map and often a timescale, a most definite start and end point. Its the reason for the journey,what happens on the way and how the journey ends that really matters along with the characters who can of course come and go as the story progresses. Some of my favourite reading material is about journeys and it doesnt have to be fantasy. South by Ernest Shackleton details the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition he led between 1914 and 1917. Frankly you wonder at times if its all for real but it takes the form of a diary and really does show that sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. What an amazing and brave man, what a story……………… and its all true!!


    1. Very good points, Mike.
      Shackleton was a remarkable man – as were less celebrated but equally amazing polar explorers over the years. Are you following The Coldest Journey? Could be another epic, and with satellites and email we can follow live rather than waiting for years.


  2. Cool post! Quite unique. Certainly, people in the airport have something to anticipate making each of everyone to be of interesting subjects. I like the last scenario the most.


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