Sunday, September 21, 2003

Stylin’ and Full of Hooey

I think Will is mistaken in his views about newspaper attribution. I follow his reasoning -- present tense can only be used if the statement is something someone says all the time or paraphrased. Indeed, such a system works in virtually all news stories. But his rule deprives features-type writers of a valuable tool.

I remember when I wrote in the form, and the present tense came in very handy a couple of times. Some stories, particularly ones heavy on description, gain from the immediacy of the present tense.

This goes back my statement about “guidelines calcifying into edicts.” Most stories should stay in the past tense, no doubt. But I don’t want to be in the position of telling a writer “you can’t tell this story in the most compelling way.”