The more informal, personal style of writing that has come to define blogging is celebrated in its own right, however, being aware of some rules, tips, and techniques from the journalism side of the fashion industry can only help to improve your depth of overall writing and processes involved. I've selected a handful of various journalism-related tactics to share in order to help you improve your writing game, and even though you may not be interested in Moving From a Blogger…to a Print Publication Writer, I think you'll find these suggestions to come in handy every now and then (or constantly!).
Know What Does and Doesn't Get Picked up by Spellcheck
Fashion can be…a vocabulary in and of its own, using terms that aren't commonly defined or appropriating new meanings to them. Only you will be able to know if the context is right, however spellcheck may be used for a second skimming of your post for errors. I find that words that are perfectly acceptable fashion vocab sometimes get incorrectly highlighted as wrong, while other words don't get selected at all. Most likely, brands and designer names will require an additional search to make sure they are spelled correctly, as most likely its not going to know if Jean Paul Gaultier is correct.
Also keep in mind that fashion occasionally relies on romance language words (largely French and Italian), which spellcheck may flag as wrong, and the system likely won't know at all if a name or brand deserves special symbols, such as an accent mark or umlaut. Also, if you are using WordPress, it's not going to detect if something is misspelled in the subject title or permalink, so keep extra tabs on those! Getting into the habit of being your own, best copy editor will certainly serve you well with catching mistakes early on, so getting in the practice of checking over your work and not relying on a spellchecker can only help you.
Keep Tabs on Your Verb Tense
Let's say, for example, you are writing a recap of the Lanvin fall/winter 2014 show; do you say “Lanvin showed a terrific lineup for spring” or “Lanvin will be showing a terrific lineup for spring?” Well…. it doesn't matter that much if you use past or future tense, as long as you pick one and stick to it. I always lean toward past tense, since the show already happened, however, in a sense, its not really arriving in stores until some time in the future, about six months from now. It really depends how you frame the review, but again, don't mix tenses; I like to write what flows from my consciousness about a collection, then do a look over edit just to make sure the verb tense is constant throughout the piece.
Should You Write in First Person, Third Person, or Plural?
I am so excited about, IFB is so excited about, we are so excited about…This is any easy one to fudge, and I pick up on inconsistencies with this (I'm sure you do too!) when reading blogs all of the time. Again, it doesn't matter that much, however, if you have a style guide to reference (see point below) it can make the decision for you, and remember to remain true to one or other throughout the post. It really depends on your style or tone, and if you are writing for someone else's blog, what the guidelines are for that particular site.
Brand Singularity or Plurality
This is another good rule to refresh in your mind, as it seems like most people default…to the wrong one. It seems that the inclination is to write “At Jil Sander, they showed a collection of minimalist silhouettes mixed with…” But, what is the “they” that is being referred to? Of course, there are always suggestions to the grammatical rules, but for the most part, the name of the brand should be kept singular. A brand is an “it,” a thing, and if, for example, the writer is referring to both the brand AND the designers (and there are definitely more than one designer), be wary of carefully balancing the proper tenses. For example, “Valentino designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli knew they were going to be feeling intense pressure to take the storied fashion house into the future after a brief stint by Alessandra Facchinetti at its helm.” I PROMISE you, it's not as tricky as it may sound; now that you know the rule, you'll be on the look out for it!
Make a Style Guide
Most print publications have an extremely thick tome or beefy PDF of a style guide, which operates as concrete evidence as what to do with everything from the preferences on captions and when to and not to use punctuation, abbreviations, headline colors, fonts, symbols, en dashes, initials, and more! Included can also be information on layout and writing style, banned words (some publications don't allow overused fashion terms, like the word “chic”), and words not included in the dictionary.
You can make your own style guide, including items that would be helpful for a newbie to your site, OR one that caters to rules that you CONSTANTLY forget about, like when you reference a film in a post, do you need to italicize or place the title in quotes. Most style guides also give back up to the back up to the back up options if you can't find what you need in there, i.e., if you can't find a needed reference in this style guide, then consult: (2) The Chicago Manual of Style (3) Words into Type (4) The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage.
What journalism recommendations do you have?