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James81
03-18-2008, 08:30 PM
This is one of my biggest challenges.

Finding ways to describe how a character says something.

My extremely limited uses include:

"said", "exclaimed", "retorted", "replied" and "answered"

Here is an example of what I am trying to ask (if you don't quite get what I am asking):

"I'm going to get some take out," Bob said.

I'm looking for more words to describe how Bob "says" something (if that makes sense lol).

Mr Flibble
03-18-2008, 08:39 PM
Stick with said, unless they raise their voice, or whisper. It's nice and invisible, and doesn't get in the way.

I'll admit to the occassional 'snapped' though.

saidisms (http://nathanbransford.blogspot.com/2007/05/he-said-she-shouted-loudly.html)

Marlys
03-18-2008, 08:42 PM
In general, try to avoid anything besides "said," "asked," or occasionally "whispered." The others generally tell you something that is (or should be) indicated in the dialogue itself: is should be clear the character is answering, retorting, or exclaiming. Overuse of tags like those tends to be taken as the mark of an amateur.

And use dialogue tags only when necessary to indicate who is speaking--three-way conversations might need more tags, for instance. Tags can frequently be avoided by having the character do something instead: Bob stretched and yawned. "I'm going out to get some take out."

Hope this helps.

WildScribe
03-18-2008, 08:42 PM
It is called a dialog tag, and "said" is really good. If you get too creative, it starts to stick out and impede your reader. Just keep it nice and smooth unless you really need to convey HOW they said it (whisper, shout, sobbed, etc.)

RLB
03-18-2008, 08:43 PM
Ditto what IdiotRUs said. (ETA: and the others who replied in between)

Use "said" almost always.

Gmz1023
03-18-2008, 08:44 PM
You can also leave it blank if its a conversation:
"Hey" said tom
"Sup" replied Jack
"you see that show last night?"
"Which show would that be?"
"you know, the one with the Dog, and the Crazy guy."

^ i do that alot... but not to much... or you could do this:
"Hey" tom said
"Sup" replied Jack
"you see that show last night?" tom reached for a bar stool and sat down next to jack
"Which show would that be?" Jack offered tom a beer, tom declined...
"you know, the one with the Dog, and the Crazy guy."
_
you dont always have to have a label if they talk... you can identify who they are through actions

IceCreamEmpress
03-18-2008, 08:45 PM
I'm looking for more words to describe how Bob "says" something (if that makes sense lol).


DO NOT DO THIS.

Seriously, fancy dialogue-tagging is one of the worst faults new writers fall into.

You should use "said" most of the time. "Asked", "answered", and "replied" are okay every now and then. "Shouted", "whispered", "hissed" very very very very rarely.


Forget what your high-school teacher said about not using "said". You can use "said" as much as you like.

Calla Lily
03-18-2008, 08:45 PM
I'm of the school that uses the following:

said

asked

and, in extreme cases:

whispered


That's it. Nothing else.

Here are a few ways I'd tackle your example sentence:

Bob's stomach growled. "I'm going to get some take out."

Bob opened the fridge. "Man, there's nothing in here but OJ and limp celery. I'm getting takeout."

Bob stumbled into the kitchen and put his aching eyes near the microwave clock. Noon. He should never have brought out that extra tray of Jello shooters last night. Empty beer bottles and crusted salsa bowls littered the counter. The trash can overflowed with greasy paper plates. He stepped backwards and tripped over an empty pizza box. He closed his eyes and hit speed dial '2' on his cell phone. Two rings, and a tinny voice said through his now-pounding headache, "Pizza On Wheels."

James81
03-18-2008, 08:46 PM
Oh, so it's not considered repetitive and annoying to use said all the time?

James81
03-18-2008, 08:47 PM
Or maybe I could just be like James Frey and not use dialogue tags at all. :P

Marlys
03-18-2008, 08:47 PM
Oh, so it's not considered repetitive and annoying to use said all the time?
No.

It's considered invisible.

IceCreamEmpress
03-18-2008, 08:47 PM
Oh, so it's not considered repetitive and annoying to use said all the time?

No.

It's repetitive and annoying to dialogue-tag every time a character speaks, but when you do dialogue-tag, "said" (and "asked", where appropriate) are your go-to verbs.

Stew21
03-18-2008, 08:49 PM
I prefer to stick with said. And wherever possible I don't use dialogue tags at all.
If the scene requires more than just dialogue (which I find it often does) I indicate the speaker with action. You'll find that many people will tell you the same thing. Let your characterization, action, and chosen dialogue be the guide to how something was said, and let the dialogue tag appear somewhat invisible with a "said". If your characterization is strong, and your dialogue, action and context are strong, there is no need to tag dialogue for more than just a necessary marker of who is speaking. Exposition of the scene is a good place to go for attributing dialogue and providing context as well.

davids
03-18-2008, 08:51 PM
"I am going to go get something to eat."
"Why Bob, don't we have enough in the house?"

James81
03-18-2008, 08:56 PM
No.

It's considered invisible.

Oh, then cool.

This is one of things that annoyed me the most (trying to find different ways to say something). So it's nice to know that I don't have to particularly worry about it now.

Pup
03-18-2008, 09:03 PM
For the sake of amusement and completeness, somebody's got to mention Tom Swifties (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Swifty) in a thread like this, though. :D

ClaudiaGray
03-18-2008, 09:11 PM
I'm not going to say you can NEVER use "snapped," "shouted," "retorted," etc. But you shouldn't be deploying those words to "vary up" using said, which should always be the default. You can use a different verb when you really want to emphasize that action, and the dialogue in itself won't do that for you. But you should use the alternatives to said very sparingly.

Stew21
03-18-2008, 09:25 PM
I'm not going to say you can NEVER use "snapped," "shouted," "retorted," etc. But you shouldn't be deploying those words to "vary up" using said, which should always be the default. You can use a different verb when you really want to emphasize that action, and the dialogue in itself won't do that for you. But you should use the alternatives to said very sparingly.


definitely. Sometimes, especially if the words don't match the tone, a modifier or more specific verb needs to be used. Sparingly is the key.

DeadlyAccurate
03-18-2008, 09:36 PM
I'm of the school that uses the following:

said

asked

and, in extreme cases:

whispered


I don't even used "asked" for a question most of the time any more. I just use "said". I'm not against the occasional saidism, though.

"What?" she said.

"What?" she snapped.

I try to do it only when the sentence itself is normally taken another, default way, or when it can't be made clear by the action.

ReneC
03-18-2008, 10:45 PM
I used to use saidism a lot and have only recently discovered that it's better not to have them. They still tend to creep into my writing but I'm trying to avoid it. Like DeadlyAccurate, I still like to use them when the sentence could be spoken in multiple ways.

If you're worried about using "said" too much, you might be worried about using a character's name too much. Don't be. Names are identifiers, they let the reader know who is speaking or doing something. They are also pretty invisible. Don't try to add variety by using the character's first name, last name, rank, or nickname. Outside of dialogue, you really only need one name and don't be afraid to use it a lot.

maestrowork
03-18-2008, 11:32 PM
"Saidism" is one of the worst things school teachers may do when teaching students how to write. The whole notion that "'said' is repetitive and boring, so it's better to substitute it..." is ill-advised. "Said" is supposed to be transparent/invisible. In fact, if you can avoid any tag at all, do so -- let the dialogue come out and shine. The only time when you should use something else is when the way the character speaks can't be apparent: "whispered," "mumbled," etc. through the dialogue, action, and context alone.

jst5150
03-18-2008, 11:39 PM
'Said' is ubiquitous and always will be. I've read or heard at least a dozen smart schools of thought that agree. If you're focused too much on said, you're not focusing enough on the other things.

Unless you're writing "Alice in Wonderland" or something as drug induced as that ("On the Road" or "Da Vinci Code" -- just kidding, Dan-O!) :) Then, feel free to use "liverwurst" as a form of said. All rules off. ;)

The moment I see something like 'he smiled' or 'he blorted' as a form of saying said, I calmly hold the book in front of me and set it alight with a Bic Zippo.

maestrowork
03-19-2008, 12:00 AM
"I agree," Ray nodded and smiled.

sheadakota
03-19-2008, 01:53 AM
yup- what they said (No pun intended;)) I try to avoid tags altogether when I can by using what the character is doing instead, but when I have no other choice its always said or asked.

KikiteNeko
03-19-2008, 02:00 AM
I personally like a good old fashioned "said." You could do this many ways:

"I don't know," Liza said
Liza said, "I don't know"
"I throw rocks at homeless people," said Liza.

I use the above in my writing, and prefer it in my reading. "Tommy's stupid!" Liza shouted and "Is Tommy stupid?" Liza asked are a bit redundant, wouldn't you say? Reading narrative that reiterates the punctuation makes me feel like the author thinks I'm too stupid to understand what's going on.

Now on the OTHER hand, you could separate the action from the speech or blend it in. For example:

Liza screamed. "Tommy has gingivitis!" she said, and screamed again.

or,

Liza found it so ridiculous that she had to ask, "Tommy, did you eat stupid flakes for breakfast?"

I'd accept the latter two.

KikiteNeko
03-19-2008, 02:04 AM
Although I don't disagree with Marlys, be careful not to overuse things like "whispered." I've read some friends' mss that used a whole lot of "whispered," and after a while, it lost all meaning and I didn't picture the characters to be whispering at all.

In general, try to avoid anything besides "said," "asked," or occasionally "whispered."

DWSTXS
03-19-2008, 02:09 AM
I think James Frey said it best.

Eldritch
03-19-2008, 02:15 AM
I don't even used "asked" for a question most of the time any more. I just use "said". I'm not against the occasional saidism, though.

"What?" she said.

"What?" she snapped.


This is something I've wondered about. I notice a lot of published writers use "said" when their character asks a question. This actually bothers me. It breaks the flow for me because I find myself thinking, "That was a question, not a statement."

Eldritch
03-19-2008, 02:25 AM
If you're worried about using "said" too much, you might be worried about using a character's name too much. Don't be. Names are identifiers, they let the reader know who is speaking or doing something. They are also pretty invisible.

That's how I feel too, but some of the members of my Writers Group have commented that I repeat my characters' names too much. Now I'm going back and exhanging their names for "he" or "she" whenever I can.

I'd sure like to hear more thoughts on this one.

Kryianna
03-19-2008, 03:05 AM
Eldritch, I'm writing in first person, and I'm feeling like I'm using "I" too much. I'm highlighting it on pages as I'm doing my read through, so that when I go back for revisions I can target it. It's not on every page, just certain ones that are problematic.

My biggest problem is with "it". I have a bunch of fight scenes with dragons, and I refer to the creatures as "it" way too often. I may need a new highlighter at the end of the read through.

IceCreamEmpress
03-19-2008, 04:15 AM
I agree with Eldritch--I much prefer "asked" to "said" for questions.

"Do you know the way to San Jose?" he said just seems more intrusive to me than "Do you know the way to San Jose?" he asked.

If the idea is to make the verb disappear, the "said" stands out more than the "asked" in that case, at least for me.

James81
03-19-2008, 06:34 AM
I use the above in my writing, and prefer it in my reading. "Tommy's stupid!" Liza shouted and "Is Tommy stupid?" Liza asked are a bit redundant, wouldn't you say? Reading narrative that reiterates the punctuation makes me feel like the author thinks I'm too stupid to understand what's going on.



Now consider the alternatives:

"Tommy's stupid!" Liza said.

"Is Tommy stupid?" Liza said.

Personally, I think using "said" in these cases are actually DETRACTING from the dialogue because the action doesn't match the dialogue.

Granted, here is a case where perhaps no tags at all could be use, but I would hardly use "said" in these two examples and I think that using "shouted" and "asked" are actually BETTER than using "said".

KikiteNeko
03-19-2008, 06:45 AM
I suppose it boils down to "author's choice"--a phrase often thrown at the class by my favorite professor. It does also depend on the context. I would assume that Liza's actions within the narrative indicate she is angry enough to be shouting, so I don't need to be told, after an exclamation point, that she's shouting. Like "Tommy's stupid!" Liza said, and slammed the door. There, I'd be focused on the exclamation point and the slamming door. The "said" becomes invisible to me. Poof, like magic!

And of course, in certain contexts, the "said" isn't even needed. "You're wrong!" Liza stamped her foot. "Tommy's stupid!"

Now consider the alternatives:

"Tommy's stupid!" Liza said.

"Is Tommy stupid?" Liza said.

Personally, I think using "said" in these cases are actually DETRACTING from the dialogue because the action doesn't match the dialogue.

Granted, here is a case where perhaps no tags at all could be use, but I would hardly use "said" in these two examples and I think that using "shouted" and "asked" are actually BETTER than using "said".

Constantine K
03-19-2008, 07:48 AM
J.K. Rowling used "ejaculated" twice in the Potter novels. Once I got to those parts, I had to close the book and reflect on why she thought it was necessary. Said will always be the best route, although I like the occasional whisper, or asked.

The other day I threw in a "roared." Not sure how I feel about that.

JAK
03-19-2008, 08:11 AM
Use the tags when it may not be clear who's speaking. Now and then I throw in a "returned"

JAK
03-19-2008, 08:13 AM
J.K. Rowling used "ejaculated" twice in the Potter novels. Once I got to those parts, I had to close the book and reflect on why she thought it was necessary.

Must have been stimulating sentences.

DoctorShade
03-19-2008, 09:13 AM
I've used the word "lament" in one of my stories, is that okay?

Without having to go into the story and find the quote I believe it was this: "I can't believe they're all dead, and it's my fault" She lamented.

dpaterso
03-19-2008, 12:14 PM
Without having to go into the story and find the quote I believe it was this: "I can't believe they're all dead, and it's my fault" She lamented.
If you think this clarifies how the dialogue is delivered then go for it, but check your punctuation:

"I can't believe they're all dead, and it's my fault," she lamented.

Just asking, in the second clause, is she saying, "I can't believe it's my fault," or is she saying, "it's my fault they're all dead"? Subtle difference. If it's the latter then splitting the sentence might help, e.g.

"I can't believe they're all dead. It's my fault."

Actually, as I typed that, I had the urge to add a non-said verb for clarity's sake. No! Must... resist... can't... give in... uuungh...

"I can't believe they're all dead. It's my fault," she wailed.

Oh the shame. :cry:

-Derek

seun
03-19-2008, 03:46 PM
Any lines like this make me cry:

"Are you OK?" he grinned.
"I'm fine," she nodded.
"I don't believe you," he announced.

Horrible writing.

seun
03-19-2008, 03:52 PM
J.K. Rowling used "ejaculated" twice in the Potter novels. Once I got to those parts, I had to close the book and reflect on why she thought it was necessary.

"Quidditch is bloody great," Ron ejaculated excitedly.
"Really, Ron. It's not that interesting," Hermione snapped angrily.

dpaterso
03-19-2008, 04:35 PM
"Quidditch is bloody great," Ron ejaculated excitedly.
"Really, Ron. It's not that interesting," Hermione snapped angrily.
"What's wrong with that?" he enquired lustily. "It's crystal clear, isn't that what counts?" he appended quizzically.

Don't shoot. :D

-Derek

DoctorShade
03-19-2008, 06:56 PM
If you think this clarifies how the dialogue is delivered then go for it, but check your punctuation:

"I can't believe they're all dead, and it's my fault," she lamented.

Just asking, in the second clause, is she saying, "I can't believe it's my fault," or is she saying, "it's my fault they're all dead"? Subtle difference. If it's the latter then splitting the sentence might help, e.g.

"I can't believe they're all dead. It's my fault."

Actually, as I typed that, I had the urge to add a non-said verb for clarity's sake. No! Must... resist... can't... give in... uuungh...

"I can't believe they're all dead. It's my fault," she wailed.

Oh the shame. :cry:

-Derek

Hmm... thanks for the little quote critque but it really wasn't all that nessary. That isn't the exact quote, just an example....I can't picture my main character ever wailing so I think I'll stick with lamented.

I don't know why everyone has such a big problem with adding tags in dialouge I like it, it makes it more real to me.

J.K. Rowling used "ejaculated" twice in the Potter novels. Once I got to those parts, I had to close the book and reflect on why she thought it was necessary. Said will always be the best route, although I like the occasional whisper, or asked.



I puzzled over her use of that word too when I read it.

seun
03-19-2008, 06:58 PM
"What's wrong with that?" he enquired lustily. "It's crystal clear, isn't that what counts?" he appended quizzically.

Don't shoot. :D

-Derek

I'm stuck on the idea of Ron ejaculating.

Mr Flibble
03-19-2008, 06:58 PM
Well they are ok occassionally, a bit of salt and pepper to flavour your writing. But if you use them all the time, it drowns out the taste of your work. 'She spouted, cookingly'

Eldritch
03-21-2008, 06:59 AM
J.K. Rowling used "ejaculated" twice in the Potter novels.

"Quidditch is bloody great," Ron ejaculated excitedly.
"Really, Ron. It's not that interesting," Hermione snapped angrily.

Must have been stimulating sentences.

Or maybe Hermione rubbed Ron the wrong way.

inkkognito
03-21-2008, 07:42 AM
Or maybe Hermione rubbed Ron the wrong way.
Actually I think it was a proofreading error. The first sentence was originally supposed to read, "Ejaculating is bloody great!" Ron quidditched excitedly.

dpaterso
03-21-2008, 02:11 PM
Please! We have children and animals here!

-Derek

Bufty
03-21-2008, 05:45 PM
True, but care has to be taken with the placing of action tags.

In the example given, shifting the tag to the front changes the meaning of the subsequent dialogue and shows the character's reaction differently.

...
And of course, in certain contexts, the "said" isn't even needed. "You're wrong!" Liza stamped her foot. "Tommy's stupid!"

BlueLucario
03-21-2008, 06:37 PM
Just, "said" with a bit of action, use a dialogue tag for the first 5 quotes and then after that just write quotes and add some actions to make the conversation sound natural.

Don't write off topic quotes and don't make your quotes longer than three lines. (That's what made stop reading Bourne Identity.Filled with tenuous info-dumps and unnatural dialogue. Hehe but that's just me, the stickler for dialogue! :))

If your characters are supposed to be saving the town from a Godzilla invasion, keep the conversation "Godzilla" related. Don't go off topic.

Don't use dialogue as a way of dumping information(The famous info-dump*shudders*). If you must do this, please make your characters give information that the other character needs to know, not what the reader needs to know. Quotes like these are considered forced and tenuous. And this is obvious to the reader.

Try to avoid adverbs and said bookisms:They tend to tell rather than show... This is said many times. Especially said-bookisms, stop and think. Do you know what that means? Are you using this and other bookisms as nothing more than ornamental paraphenalia?

He expostulated (What the hell does that mean?! Do you think I have time to find a dictionary?)

If your characters are doing something while they speak,(in which they have to to avoid talking heads) then there's no need for these empty calorie words :)

Imagine Gary and Sue are in a heated argument.

"I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU!!!!!!!!" bellowed Gary at the top of his lungs, his voice so earsplitting that it shattered the glass window. "MY WIFE, IN BED WITH THE PREACHER??! SUE, I THOUGHT YOU LOVED ME! I THOUGHT YOU LOVED ME!!!!!!"

You figure it out. There are so many things in this quote that are so unnecessary. Try to pick them out. :)

and PLEASE do not use the word Ejaculated, especially when the reader is most likely eating. I hate that word.

I think i'll stop for now. I think I come across as overly pedantic. Hehehe :)

Bufty
03-21-2008, 07:04 PM
For the first 5 quotes? Nonsense.

Actions are not added to make conversation sound natural. If the conversation is forced or false or sounds unnatural, no amount of tags will change that.

Action tags are used to aid the interpretation of the dialogue and/or to add something to the character/scene.

Just, "said" with a bit of action, use a dialogue tag for the first 5 quotes and then after that just write quotes and add some actions to make the conversation sound natural.
...

James81
03-21-2008, 07:26 PM
Just, "said" with a bit of action, use a dialogue tag for the first 5 quotes and then after that just write quotes and add some actions to make the conversation sound natural.

Why would I want to add action if there is no action?

Don't write off topic quotes and don't make your quotes longer than three lines. (That's what made stop reading Bourne Identity.Filled with tenuous info-dumps and unnatural dialogue. Hehe but that's just me, the stickler for dialogue! :))

So where do you live that people never speak more than 3 sentences at a time?

If your characters are supposed to be saving the town from a Godzilla invasion, keep the conversation "Godzilla" related. Don't go off topic.

This would make for a pretty boring story.

Don't use dialogue as a way of dumping information(The famous info-dump*shudders*). If you must do this, please make your characters give information that the other character needs to know, not what the reader needs to know. Quotes like these are considered forced and tenuous. And this is obvious to the reader.

Depends on what the character is trying to do. If he's telling a story (which happens all the time in real life), then he's going to need more than three lines to tell it.

Try to avoid adverbs and said bookisms:They tend to tell rather than show... This is said many times. Especially said-bookisms, stop and think. Do you know what that means? Are you using this and other bookisms as nothing more than ornamental paraphenalia?



I don't get the idea behind not using adverbs that everybody says here. Anybody want to tackle this? Heck, i'm not even sure I know what an adverb IS. I read the dictionary definition on wiki and I'm still not sure exactly what they are.

Bufty
03-21-2008, 07:43 PM
To admit not knowing what an adverb is or does is an incredible admission for an aspiring writer to make, Jamie. You cannot be serious.

Google adverbs. Or check your dictionary.

An adverb qualifies a verb - amongst other things, but that's its commonest function.

He said loudly.
He ran quickly.
He said angrily.
She smiled charmingly.


Adverbs often mean that the original verb chosen isn't the correct one.

And in addition, the overuse of adverbs in dialogue tags often means the dialogue itself is not clear enough.

For instance - He ran quickly perhaps should have been He sprinted or He raced if the writer took the time to think about it.


I don't get the idea behind not using adverbs that everybody says here. Anybody want to tackle this? Heck, i'm not even sure I know what an adverb IS. I read the dictionary definition on wiki and I'm still not sure exactly (You just used one) what they are.

James81
03-21-2008, 07:58 PM
To admit not knowing what an adverb is or does is an incredible admission for an aspiring writer to make, Jamie. You cannot be serious.



Heh, well I know the basics of grammar and English, but there are a few things I don't know or never quite understood. I need a good refresher course I think for the specifics.

I've always just put put the pen to the page without thinking about grammar or what the book definition of the word I am using is.

Bufty
03-21-2008, 08:10 PM
Just checked your other posts and I wish you well, Jamie.

You can't write and not think about grammar and punctuation and what words mean -that's what you are working with - words. Anyone can put words on paper - putting them on paper in such a way other folk want to read the first sentence, then the next, then the next and so on.. is the craft that has to be mastered, and the hard part.

Good luck

Heh, well I know the basics of grammar and English, but there are a few things I don't know or never quite understood. I need a good refresher course I think for the specifics.

I've always just put put the pen to the page without thinking about grammar or what the book definition of the word I am using is.

Marian Perera
03-21-2008, 08:26 PM
I was just reading Barbara Taylor Bradford's A Woman of Substance on the subway yesterday. The book was published in 1979 and I wonder how much of the style is due to that; there are so many adverbs that they keep jumping out at me.

Adam waited impatiently as his elder son masticated his food laboriously, eventually swallowing it in one gulp after what seemed an interminable time to Adam.

Gerald wiped his epicene mouth on his serviette unhurriedly, and with great deliberation, and said finally...

I get it already, the guy's a glutton.

James81
03-21-2008, 08:40 PM
Just checked your other posts and I wish you well, Jamie.

You can't write and not think about grammar and punctuation and what words mean -that's what you are working with - words. Anyone can put words on paper - putting them on paper in such a way other folk want to read the first sentence, then the next, then the next and so on.. is the craft that has to be mastered, and the hard part.

Good luck

Honestly, until I started blogging I didn't really even consider myself much of a writer. I had an older blog (before the one in my sig) that I posted for about 3 or 4 months and people came out of nowhere to compliment my writing style.

Up until that point I never considered my writing to be that great.

Basically, what I'm trying to say is apparently I have some natural writing talent. But I also realize that I make a lot of "rookie" mistakes and have flaws in my writing too because I am a lazy writer who rarely revises what he writes and don't know the ins and outs of professional writing (heh, that's why I am here to take my talent to a new level).

Shanster
03-21-2008, 09:26 PM
I use so many different words that I lose track of them.
This is a good site, though. It lists common words in categories (happy, sad, angry, etc.) then alternatives for them, too.

http://www.cyberspaces.net/6traits/wsaid.html

IceCreamEmpress
03-21-2008, 09:45 PM
:Soapbox:NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO :Soapbox:


I use so many different words that I lose track of them.
This is a good site, though. It lists common words in categories (happy, sad, angry, etc.) then alternatives for them, too.

http://www.cyberspaces.net/6traits/wsaid.html


:Soapbox:NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO:Soapbox:


Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!


Seriously, don't use lots of different words for "said". And certainly don't go looking for lists of different words for "said".

BlueLucario
03-21-2008, 09:52 PM
Seriously, don't use lots of different words for "said". And certainly don't go looking for lists of different words for "said".

Yes. Listen to the Empress. She knows.

Eldritch
04-04-2008, 05:51 AM
In my middle grade WIP, my characters are looking into a room where some creatures are preoccupied. The kids don't want the creatures to know they are there, so they "whisper" to one another.

They really need to "whisper" in these situations so the creatures don't hear them. If I write "said", isn't the reader going to wonder why the creatures don't hear them?

One of my characters did speak aloud twice, and each time the creature heard him, and consequently, threw something at him.

Thoughts? Please!

Matera the Mad
04-04-2008, 08:38 AM
Nothing wrong with using whisper, as long as you don't pound it in over and over, and also substitute hiss, sibilate, breathe, and a shipload of others in the same scene.

chevbrock
04-04-2008, 09:27 AM
When starting the convo between two people, use dialogue tags to establish in what order who's talking. After you've established that, then leave them out.

A more than two person convo will require you to add dialogue tags pretty much throughout.

Some others I like are "Seth butted in", "Joanne added", "John interrupted". Probably all sh*t.

Jenifer
04-04-2008, 09:41 AM
It's pointless to post three pages in, but... http://img56.imageshack.us/img56/8929/smiliebleh7qp.gif I'm all about the pointless tonight.

Said, said, said... throwing in a lot of other words knocks the reader out of the story. In the space of a few seconds, a person who has just realized that they're reading can decide to do other things... wash the dishes, take the dog out, maybe register the fact that their wife has been screaming at them for the past twenty minutes.

Keep the pages turning... never knock the reader out of the story.


If your characters are supposed to be saving the town from a Godzilla invasion, keep the conversation "Godzilla" related. Don't go off topic.

I disagree. Subplot is the spice of life.

In my middle grade WIP, my characters are looking into a room where some creatures are preoccupied. The kids don't want the creatures to know they are there, so they "whisper" to one another.

They really need to "whisper" in these situations so the creatures don't hear them. If I write "said", isn't the reader going to wonder why the creatures don't hear them?

One of my characters did speak aloud twice, and each time the creature heard him, and consequently, threw something at him.

Thoughts? Please!

Trust the reader to be smart enough to know that if the monster isn't throwing things, he didn't hear anything.

Jo
04-04-2008, 10:25 AM
In my middle grade WIP, my characters are looking into a room where some creatures are preoccupied. The kids don't want the creatures to know they are there, so they "whisper" to one another.

They really need to "whisper" in these situations so the creatures don't hear them. If I write "said", isn't the reader going to wonder why the creatures don't hear them?

One of my characters did speak aloud twice, and each time the creature heard him, and consequently, threw something at him.

Thoughts? Please!

Writing for children requires a slightly different set of "rules", IMO. Or style. Most MG books published recently in Australia are riddled with rule-breakers. Children lose their way a lot quicker than adults, and are not as clued in to nuances. They need a few pointers/helpers, although I personally use action tags, or character thoughts (of the POV character) to show the whos and hows of the speaker. I'd have my characters whispering in your situation, though.

Eldritch
04-05-2008, 02:45 AM
Thank you all for the great comments.


Writing for children requires a slightly different set of "rules", IMO. Or style. Most MG books published recently in Australia are riddled with rule-breakers. Children lose their way a lot quicker than adults, and are not as clued in to nuances. They need a few pointers/helpers,

Jo, I agree. I've seen a lot of rule-breakers in the books my kids read, and the funny thing is, they don't care in the least. For them it's all about the story and the characters.

elf_friend39
04-05-2008, 06:01 AM
Someone gave me good advice a while back when I was worried about the over-usage of the word said: reread one or two of your favorite books (or even a new one), and make note of how many times they say "said" without adding fancy, unnecessary details in the conversations.

Seif
04-06-2008, 09:21 PM
Most of the comments that have been posted have been spot on, however, we must realise that we can not look at dialog detached from the speaker (character to whom the dialogue relates to).

You may be using dialog tag to emphasis the characteristic of a person, for example, if during a conversation you wish to convey an individuals short-temper or passion relating to the subject matter being discussed it may serve you well to use 'she retorted' etc. Or if you wish to convey mystery and/or timidness, 'he whispered' etc.

I only use dialog as used by and said by the characters. Once you have determined the personality of the characters, their motivations and the context in which dialog takes place then issues such as dialog tags and when to place them resolve themselves.

And, yes, it is almost impossible to complete a whole sentence whist laughing at the same time unless incoherence is your aim.

Thanks for asking such a query as it it continues to be a question that bugs me throughout my writing, though I seldom use dialog except to maintain interaction between characters through other means.

Andrew Jameson
04-07-2008, 01:22 AM
In my middle grade WIP, my characters are looking into a room where some creatures are preoccupied. The kids don't want the creatures to know they are there, so they "whisper" to one another.

They really need to "whisper" in these situations so the creatures don't hear them. If I write "said", isn't the reader going to wonder why the creatures don't hear them?

One of my characters did speak aloud twice, and each time the creature heard him, and consequently, threw something at him.

Thoughts? Please!
The recommendation I've seen is to begin the dialogue by using "whispered" (or whatever) as a tag. Once it's established that the characters are whispering, the reader will assume they continue to do so until shown otherwise, so the rest of the "whispering" scene can be continued with "said" (or no tag at all).

The same technique can be used in other situations: where characters are yelling at each other from far away, for example, or when one character is intentionally talking in a funny accent or whatever. However, remember the implication: make sure you tell your reader when the character *stops* talking in a funny accent, or stops yelling or whispering.

StephanieFox
04-07-2008, 01:46 AM
"Declare, state, avow, emphasize, stress, tell, affirm, aver, claim, allege, contend, utter, testify, assert confirm, justify, insist, swear, profess, state, announce, reveal, explain, imply, say," she said.