Friday, June 9, 2017

Use The Simple Word 'Said' In Dialogue

Other things to say instead of “said” | ELA in the middle:

Look at all the words today's poster gives a writer to use instead of the boring old said when writing dialogue. Wow! You could go pages before having to repeat one of them. You have a bundle here to choose from. They're all pretty words.

Guess what? I'm firmly against each one. There is nothing wrong with the supposedly boring said. You don't want to distract the reader from the actual spoken words by tossing in all these descriptive words instead.

Using words like yelled, whispered, shouted tell us how the speaker delivered his/her words. That's right--they tell us and we all know that showing is better than telling. If necessary, you can add a sentence after the dialogue to show how the words were uttered.

Said is nothing more than something to aid the reader in determining who said what. When a lengthy conversation occurs, readers can get lost as to who is saying what. All you need is a simple she said or John said. When a reader is concentrating on the dialogue itself, their brain registers who said what but not always consciously. We scan the said part but pay attention to the spoken words.

Blogger, Justin McLachlan has a post about common mistakes writers make. He lists the said issue as #1. "Your characters grouse, whisper, bellow, and ejaculate their dialogue. Said. That's all you need and most of the time, you shouldn't even need that. Dialogue attributions are just markers to help orient the reader."

If it's a question, the simple asked works in place of said.

Writers are taught not to repeat words, especially in the same sentence or paragraph. That recommendation gets lifted when writing dialogue. Write said as often as you like. If you're writing a lengthy bit of dialogue, you only need to use the he said or she said every few statements to keep the reader aware of who said what. Writing the attribution after every single statement gets irritating to the reader.

There appear to be two schools of thought on whether to use said or one of the many choices in our poster above. I've stated which side I'm on and why. If anyone lines up on the opposite side and would like to defend their position, please use the comments section to do so.

As for me, I say that said is not dead.

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