Hello, fellow writers! My name is Jamie Tichborne, and I am currently the head writer for À La Une! I am also, coincidently, the only writer for À La Une. Should this be rectified? Well, for all you aspiring writers out there, here is a detailed style guide. This guide will teach you exactly how to write and format any articles for À La Une so that, in the future, you can submit articles to us to be published on the blog. Let the guide commence!
1. The Process
Before we even begin to talk about the writing, we must first get into the process. This is the mindset that you’ll need to be in before you even put pen to paper. Read this part carefully, as it WILL come in handy.
Firstly, you’ll need to go through all the obvious, rigorous training sessions that every writer must go through. Imagine the marines doing hell week. Triple it. Take away one week. That’s right. It begins with a hell fortnight. You’ll need to be in the best shape of your life to undertake this task. I recommend going to the gym 7 days a week for least a year before you even attempt this. For those of you who have met me in real life, it will be obvious how seriously I take this part. I am currently in the best shape of my life.
After this we will begin the fasting section. Audio fasting. No music for a whole year. I know what you’re thinking: “But Jamie, how will listening to no music for a whole year help you become a music journalist?”
Next, the cinnamon challenge. The final part of the process involves completing one full cinnamon challenge. No cheating! We’ve had it all here folks. We know the tricks. If I see one more person shove a full tablespoon of cinnamon up their arse and claim it counts, I’ll throw my laptop through the window and never write again. Strangely, many have taken me up on this offer, but I've always just blocked them on social media because I can’t afford a new laptop.
2. The Style
Where to begin with the À La Une style. Well, the rhyming scheme is probably a good place to start.
As you will have been able to tell from my previous articles, they are all written in iambic pentameter. It’s one of the more traditional rhyming schemes and it suits the publication perfectly. Anyone even tries to submit a haiku and I’ll fucking kick off. Back when I was the editor of the NME in the 80s, hundreds of jokers each month tried submitting haikus. There’s nowhere near enough syllables to meet the criteria for iambic pentameter, and it obviously doesn’t meet the word count, you fucking degenerates.
It should also be noted that, here at À La Une, we try to avoid writing reviews in the form of a script. Sure, it can happen sometimes. Everyone makes mistakes. Hell, even I’ve been guilty of it, and I’m 6 foot 2 and built like a brick shithouse. Sometimes writing an album review with stage directions, dialogue and shot types is completely unavoidable. Here’s a little snippet from a retrospective of Pet Sounds I did that can show you just how easy it is to slip into script sometimes:
“... Side two is perhaps one of the most beautiful sides in all of music. As soon as the instantly recognisable God Only Knows begins to play the audience is treated to one of the most luscious compositions in popular music.
EXT. FARM. DAY.
CUT TO wide shot of the band feeding a herd of goats, cheerfully.
Boy, the animals sure are hungry today. Making music is too hard. I wish I could do this every day.”
You can see how this style of writing can become confusing. While often unavoidable, please do your best to refrain from writing your articles in the form of a script.
My final bit of advice on the style would be this: involve other people. Involve so many other people. Make it so you have almost zero authority over your own work. At any given moment I might have 700 of my closest friends working on one article alongside me. By the end of the writing process, the reviews are almost unrecognisable to me. I’ll often have just one person working on each word. Any more people than that per word and it gets convoluted. But if you can make just one person focus on each word, the attention to detail will astound you.
3. How To Submit
This is where the going gets tough. At À La Une, we struggle with emails. I forgot my password so long ago that rather than figure out the impenetrable ‘forgot your password?’ system on Gmail, it seemed simpler to have the articles hand delivered to us. Of course, this means that all submissions MUST be written by hand. Invisible ink is essential for this. The journey to the Quarry archives is long and arduous, and many other music critics may try and halt you in your path, stealing your work and defiling your corpse.
Rather than the journey to the Quarry music venue, which is remarkably easy to get to, the Quarry archives require days of planning, a map, a compass, a team of 5 (warrior, healer, mage, druid, music journalist), a blu-ray of the Metallica documentary Some Kind Of Monster, a DVD player (without blu-ray compatibility), a strong sense of courage, an even stronger odour, the deed to the house, and 1 album review. And all this, just to fight the balrog that waits outside.
Should you make it, whilst avoiding the various music journalist assassins you’ll cross paths in in the Burmese jungles you’ll have to machete your way through, you’ll find a room with a laptop in which you will be given the Wix login details and be able to type up your review from memory (it’s been torn up by now), add pictures, dash in a bit of SEO and hyperlinks, and get ready for the Monday release of articles!
And it’s that easy. Here at À La Une and Quarry, we believe in inclusivity, and anyone from any background, with any skill set should be able to get involved. While, as previously mentioned, for the blog section it would help if you have skillset that involves a military history and knowledge of traditional English prose and poetry, we are happy to have a gander at any submissions.
Although whoever keeps posting articles written in human excrement through the entrance and running away giggling, please, keep them coming.
And if anyone else has any music journalism written in human excrement, why not show Aidan Shard at the bar! He’ll happily man handle it to have a quick read, and if it’s good enough, he’ll let you try the chili he’s been working on the past few weeks. Ignore the bone marrow that bobs around in it.