SO OFTEN in travel writing — particularly in travel blogs — there’s a total absence of character interaction, as if the narrator operated inside a vacuum. He or she will be in whatever given terrain — a cave in Ireland, a cafe in Buenos Aires, on a river in Western North Carolina — and either there will be no mention of other characters at all, or if there is, they’ll be stripped down to the most mechanical, perfunctory level.
The clumsiest instances of this are when other characters simply show up through some (typically overblown) plot point. For example, halfway through a story about rafting on the Chattooga, a nameless “guide” to whom we’ve had no introduction, no prior description, suddenly appears:
As we dug in and headed toward the biggest rapid, the guide yelled, “All forward!”
Who is this nameless guide? Did he or she suddenly just drop into the raft from space?