by Susan Berger
Do a search for “said-bookism.” That’s the term of substituting other words for said."Unfortunately, an astonishing number of elementary and secondary school teachers, utterly ignorant of good style, instruct their poor students to avoid overusing said. As a result, these poor students think that it's good -- even necessary -- to indulge in "said-book-ism," where the word said is always either replaced or accompanied by an adverb. Nothing is ever simply tagged; it's always replied, whispered, shouted, uttered, remarked, commented, intoned, murmured, wondered, laughed, hissed, muttered; or said bleakly, happily, merrily, snidely, nastily, angrily, loudly, softly, in astonishment, under his breath, with a smile, or ... well, you get the idea. Quite apart from the hilarity that arises from inadvertent Tom Swifties -- "I'm afraid we'll have to amputate," said the surgeon disarmingly -- it is this variety that becomes repetitive and annoying. That's because the reader is constantly being distracted from the dialogue and forced to examine meaningless, uninteresting tags. Here is a link to the original lesson
This post is mostly for people who write in the third person voice.
(There are still some of you out there, right?)
The conventional wisdom tells writers that the word “said” is invisible to reader.
I was taught “said” is best. Here are three quotes on the subject.
Kay Dacus: Debunking Writing Myths
When I was in graduate school it was explained this way: readers see “said” or “asked” much like a period or comma. It’s more like punctuation than anything else, therefore those are unobtrusive.
However, as a reader and editor—and as someone who listens to audio books more than I read actual physical books—I can attest to the fact that “said” dialogue tags get very old very fast if those are the only way the author attributes the dialogue in his/her book.
Just as we want to look for ways to make our writing stronger when it comes to verb or adverb use, we want to make sure we’re not overusing any words, and that includes the words said and asked, even as dialogue tags. And the best way to do that is with action and/or introspection laced in with the dialogue. Here's a Link to the post
3. Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue.
The line of dialogue belongs to the character; the verb is the writer sticking his nose in. But said is far less intrusive than grumbled, gasped, cautioned, lied. I once noticed Mary McCarthy ending a line of dialogue with “she asseverated,” and had to stop reading to get the dictionary.
4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said” . . .
. . . he admonished gravely. To use an adverb this way (or almost any way) is a mortal sin. The writer is now exposing himself in earnest, using a word that distracts and can interrupt the rhythm of the exchange. I have a character in one of my books tell how she used to write historical romances “full of rape and adverbs.”
Here's a link to that post
That being said (could not resist that one,) a lot of very good writers today are using substitutes for “said”. You don’t have to believe me. Page through some of your favorite books and look for yourself.
For your edification, here is a link to a list of substitutes for “said.”
Please read through them. (you can also download or print the list)
Please comment. Are you Pro “said” or Con “said”?
Can you add to the list?
Can you add to the list?