Saturday, May 19, 2012

"Attribution," she said

Last year, I was editing an aspiring novelist who was struggling with attribution. He'd write something like this:

She stated, "You are a real dummy. "
And I'd change it to:

"You are a real dummy," she said.

The word "stated" is stilted. In most cases, "said" works fine.

"I'm a good writer, but I can be better," he said. (This is the simplest form of attribution.)

"This year," he said, "has been tough for the Republican Party." (This breaks up the same-ole, same-ole.)

"Our team has improved the last five games," said Neidermeyer, the team's third-year coach. (This is a smooth way to do attribution.)
Don't worry; attribution is often a problem for even experienced writers and editors. Where do you put the "he said"?

I found this one day in a New York Times story: “My nose tells me he’s a dealmaker kind of guy as long as both sides are playing straight,” the New England Patriots’ owner, Robert K. Kraft, said. I would change the last part of the sentence to say: ," said Robert K. Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots.

In my last newspaper job, the reporters thought the editor preferred the mangled form, so they'd write, "We really like our jobs," Joe Schmoe, news director of the radio station, said Thursday. No, the editor actually preferred, "We really like our jobs," said Joe Schmoe, news director of the radio station.

It'd be nice to get Thursday in there, but it's implied that it would be a Thursday interview for a Friday newspaper.
He said.

More editing/writing blog entries

1 comment:

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