1. JennieDoomsday
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    JennieDoomsday New Member

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    Dailog words to replace "said" - huge list!

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by JennieDoomsday, Apr 22, 2010.

    I thought these might be helpful to those who are always looking for words to use instead of 'said', 'asked', 'replied', etc. They certainly help me!

    A
    accused
    acknowledged
    acquiesced
    acquired
    added
    addressed
    admitted
    admonished
    advised
    advocated
    affirmed
    agreed
    alleged
    allowed
    alluded
    announced
    answered
    apologized
    appeased
    applauded
    approved
    argued
    articulated
    asked
    assented
    asserted
    assisted
    assured
    assured
    attributed
    awed

    B
    babbled
    baited
    bantered
    barked
    bawled
    beamed
    began
    begged
    belched
    believed
    bellowed
    beseeched
    besought
    bleated
    blubbered
    boasted
    boomed
    bowed
    bragged
    breathed
    broke in
    butted-in

    C
    cackled
    cajoled
    calculated
    calculated
    called
    cannonaded
    caroled
    cautioned
    cautioned
    challenged
    championed
    changed
    charged
    chatted
    cheered
    chided
    chipped in
    choked
    chortled
    chorused
    chuckled
    churned
    cited
    claimed
    clamored
    coaxed
    comforted
    commented
    complained
    complained
    complemented
    conceded
    concluded
    concurred
    confessed
    confirmed
    consented
    consoled
    contended
    contested
    continued
    contributed
    cooed
    corrected
    coughed
    countered
    cried
    criticized
    croaked
    crooned
    cross-examined
    cursed
    cussed

    D
    debated
    decided
    declared
    declined
    defended
    demanded
    denied
    described
    determined
    dictated
    discussed
    dismissed
    drawled
    dribbled
    droned

    E
    eased
    echoed
    edited
    effervesced
    egged
    ejaculated
    elaborated
    emphasized
    encouraged
    ended
    enthused
    enticed
    entreated
    enumerated
    enunciated
    exaggerated
    exclaimed
    excused
    exhorted
    explained
    exploded
    expostulated
    extolled

    F
    faltered
    feared
    fidgeted
    finished
    frowned
    fumbled
    fumed

    G
    gagged
    gasped
    gibbered
    giggled
    gleamed
    gloated
    glowered
    goaded
    greeted
    grinned
    groaned
    ground out
    growled
    grumbled
    grunted
    guessed
    guffawed
    gulped
    gurgled
    gushed

    H
    hailed
    hastened
    hesitated
    hinted
    hissed
    hollered
    hooted
    hoped
    horned in
    howled
    humored

    I
    imitated
    implied
    implored
    indicated
    informed
    inquired
    inquired
    insinuated
    insisted
    instructed
    interjected
    interposed
    interpreted
    interrupted
    intimidated
    intoned
    jabbered
    jeered
    jested
    joked

    L
    lambasted
    lamented
    laughed
    lectured
    lied
    lisped
    listed
    lumbered

    M
    made known
    maintained
    maligned
    marveled
    mentioned
    mimicked
    moaned
    mocked
    motioned
    mourned
    mumbled
    mumbled
    murmured
    mused
    muttered

    N
    nagged
    nodded
    noted
    noticed

    O
    objected
    observed
    offered
    ordered
    oscillated

    P
    panicked
    panted
    pardoned
    perceived
    persisted
    persuaded
    pestered
    piped up
    piped up
    pleaded
    pointed
    pondered
    postulated
    pouted
    praised
    preached
    predicted
    pressed
    prevaricated
    proceeded
    proclaimed
    prodded
    profaned
    professed
    proffered
    promised
    prompted
    prophesied
    proposed
    purred
    pursued
    put in
    puzzled

    Q
    quavered
    queried
    questioned
    quibbled
    quipped
    quoted

    R
    railed
    rambled
    ranted
    raved
    recalled
    recited
    recommended
    regretted
    reiterated
    rejoined
    released
    relented
    remained
    remembered
    reminded
    remonstrated
    renounced
    repeated
    replied
    reported
    reprehended
    reprimanded
    requested
    rescinded
    resolved
    responded
    resumed
    retorted
    returned
    revealed
    roared
    rumbled

    S
    sang
    sang out
    scoffed
    scolded
    scorned
    screamed
    screeched
    sermonized
    shifted
    shouted
    shrieked
    shrilled
    shrugged
    shuddered
    shuffled
    sighed
    sizzled
    slurped
    slurred
    smarted
    smiled
    smirked
    smoldered
    snapped
    snarled
    sneered
    snickered
    sniffed
    snorted
    sobbed
    soliloquized
    soothed
    specified
    spelled
    spluttered
    spoke
    spurted
    sputtered
    squawked
    squealed
    stammered
    stared
    stated
    stormed
    stressed
    struggled
    stuttered
    submitted
    suggested
    summarized
    surmised
    swayed
    swore
    sympathized

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    T
    tantalized
    tattled
    taunted
    teased
    testified
    thought
    threatened
    tittered
    told
    tutted

    U
    urged
    ushered
    uttered

    V
    vacillated
    vaunted
    ventured
    voiced
    volunteered

    W
    wailed
    warned
    waved
    wavered
    whined
    whispered
    wittered
    wondered
    wore on
    worried

    Y
    yearned
    yelled
    yelped
    yowled
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Very bad idea. Writers should stick primarily with said or asked. "Variety verbs" in dialogue tags mark you as an amateur.

    Dialogue tags serve to identify who said what. Other than that, they should be virtually invisible. Sticking to said and asked helps accomplish that.
     
  3. Marcelo
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    Marcelo New Member

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    Yes, adverbs of manner can help your semi-invisible dialogue tags to get the effect you want, I'd say other dialogue tags shouldn't be used if it can be avoided, but if not, then go ahead; after all this won't be the case most of the time. ;)
     
  4. Lemex
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    Lemex Hey there Contributor

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    Agreed. A good writer can show you these things without telling you.
     
  5. TeabagSalad
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    TeabagSalad New Member

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    I agree. In my view the only time you should use something other than "said" or "asked" is when you want your reader to notice that something has been said in a certain way. Even then this should be limited to a few different tags. I would say probably only "shouted" or "yelled" and "whispered" - there might be a couple of others too but that is about all that I think I use.
     
  6. Nobeler Than Lettuce
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    Nobeler Than Lettuce New Member

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    I used to go to great lengths to describe the way someone had said something.

    Like: "They -" he said, his voice brought to a low bass rumbling in the chest of her, "think we're like little, clay, molds."

    But these day's as the others have pointed out, it's really only acceptable to use said. You'll have to paint the picture with your complete narrative. Though, sometimes I do lapse back and put in one or two of those sentences. Maybe that's like wasabi in your salad though.
     
  7. Meliha
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    Meliha New Member

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    I really get annoyed with a text that repeats any word too many times and 'said' is one of those most repeated. I can see why you would suggest the list and 'thank you for that!' :) ... I often imply that its was said by either describing the voice, or the feeling, or the thought etc. You already have the "" so it tells the reader that someone said something, i.e. its just the case of making sure the reader knows who said it and there are more ways then 'bob said...' 'Igor said...' 'Nelly said...' 'Barbara said...' 'Frank said...' said said said :)
     
  8. EileenG
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    EileenG New Member

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    I go through my text with a tooth comb to make sure I don't use the same word too often. But "said" is the exception. It's a word that is invisible to the reader, it doesn't draw attention to itself, so you can use it as often as necessary. Every time I read something littered with "responded", "conceded", "denied", "queried" etc, it jerks me out of the story.
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Nobody worries about overusing a/an or the. They are fundamental to language and disappear to the reader. Although you can find alternatives to said and asked, they don't serve exactly the same purpose, and don't fade from notice in the way that said and asked do.

    Word repetition is a problem in writing, but there are exceptions. The verbs in dialogue tags are one of those exceptions.
     
  10. black-radish
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    black-radish New Member

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    Nothing wrong with using words such as "replied" if it is of meaning to the story.

    "Did you do your homework?"
    "Yes" I replied slowly.

    This is of meaning to the story because it makes you wonder if the " I " actually did do his homework or if he was lying.


    and when you don't actually use litteral dialogue in your story it can be usefull aswell.

    "Did you break that vase?"
    He quickly denied before he slipped out of the livingroom.



    I always find it hard to reach the right balance when there is a long dialogue, if it goes on quite long you forget who is who, but putting "-said Alice" or "said John" behind every scentence is ofcourse stupid. Any advice on this? Or should you cut up the dialoge? I usually put other scentences around the talking parts to show who is talking like:

    "I don't get why you're making such a big deal out of this!" John said.
    Alice turned away to hide her upcoming tears.
    "Because you never do anything for me."
    "What are you talking about?"
    John walked towards her. "Is this because the neighbour bought his wife those flowers?"
    "It's because a lot of things."
    He could tell by her sobbing voice the tears were already running down her cheeks.


    the "John walked towards her" is making clear it's him who is talking and at the same time functional for showing he cares.
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ditto cog's 'very bad idea!' post... it IS!!!
     
  12. Kursal
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    Kursal New Member

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    As a continuation to that, there are techniques that you can use to punctuate dialogue or build up tension (before a punchline for example), neither of which are as verbose as relying on the original list.

    That's not to say that you should never use verbs but they are much better for describing a characters actions (as metaphor) than replacing 'said' or 'asked'.

    Ejaculated, what a great word that is. Doesn't that say a lot about a character if his speech ejaculates? Well, yes it does but the sentence:

    "He ejaculated"

    Seams somewhat trite and doesn't really serve to define the character in the same way that the following could:

    "He said, his nervous words ejaculating from his mouth"
     
  13. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Personally, I'd avoid using the verb ejaculate at all, when talking about dialogue...
     
  14. thinking
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    thinking New Member

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    or you could just, you know, not use dialogue tags....

    I try to avoid them. I find that they clutter the story and often seriously diminish the impact of the dialogue itself. If a story is well written, it should almost always be obvious which character is speaking and what tone he or she is using.
     
  15. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Absolutely. Still, some conversations do require more tags than others. For example, a conversation with more than two participants -- the reader can no longer count on simple alternation to keep track. But dialogue tags are not the only available tool. Context can help. Once a multi-way conversation is rolling, you can often tell which character is speaking bu the phrasing, or the content. Also, you can use beats, brief actions interspersed in the dialogue, to indicate who is speaking and how it relates to what is taking place in the scene.
     
  16. Kursal
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    Kursal New Member

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    I suppose, like most things in writing, it is a tool. Over-reliance on any tool is a bad thing but used in the right place it can be effective.
     
  17. Phantasmal Reality
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    Phantasmal Reality New Member

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    Just remember that tags do not equal beats. Sometimes they're combined--"That sounds good," he said while clearing the table--but only sometimes, and even then you want to avoid substituting beats where you wanted a tag. ("Sounds good," he cleared the table.) Using tags other than "said" and "asked" more than a few times in any given story is going to peg you as an amateur and land your manuscript in the reject pile. Think of more creative ways to weave whatever it is you're trying to show, not tell, into the scene.
     
  18. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    In this case, you'd need to replace the comma with a full stop, and capitalise the H of he, since it isn't a dialogue tag, and so is a seperate sentence.
     
  19. kittenmojo
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    kittenmojo New Member

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    Like with anything, moderation in usage is best. I, too, get annoyed when I am writing and try to vary things up a bit so I think this list was really helpful and it can add value when you are trying to direct a reader to understand the meaning of your dialogue better.

    Thanks :)
     
  20. Mila
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    Mila New Member

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    some of those tags bring up some hilarious images. I'm going to store away 'belched', 'cooed', and 'dribbled' for future use.
    'bleated' would be fantastic for when my main char is in disguise as a lamb....

    Joking aside, one or two of those other than 'said' have their place. Just use them sparingly and I would say NEVER use the ridiculously OTT ones like those above !

    One thing I hate, and I've seen it a lot from one writer, is '"blah blah blah ?" I made it a question.' Argh ! Surely the question mark tells me it's a question ?
    And people hissing sentences that don't have the letter 's' in them. Really, really annoying.
     
  21. black-radish
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    black-radish New Member

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    Jenny, I'd just like to say: thanks for posting this!

    I know people aren't too enthousiastic about it, but it's a good thing you like to help, so please don't get discouraged to post something next time!

    Happy writing and don't forget to have fun! :)

    ~ Lola
     
  22. Meliha
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    Meliha New Member

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    I like this example

    I agree...

    Plus: "That sounds good" - was he supportive or just trying to get the conversation over with? How did the other person respond to this? Or feel about this? So saying something about the emotion behind the words (also helps the reader get the ral meaning and emotion), rather then going for just his actions may help. You can add what he was doing later on.
     
  23. Manav
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    Manav New Member

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    I agree. Even though not in the way you have intended, Jenny, this post is helping people to learn. So, keep posting.
     
  24. RomanticRose
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    RomanticRose New Member

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    These three in particular would pull me out of the story so fast I'd get the bends.
     
    1 person likes this.
  25. KP Williams
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    KP Williams New Member

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    I'm not even sure how to pronounce "effervesced," and English pronunciation is one of the few things I'm really good at. :confused:

    If you really want to use another word in place of said/asked, make it a simple one. I would not find it acceptable if someone ejaculated while speaking to me, and I seriously doubt that "acquire" is commonly used to refer to dialogue. Actually, quite a few items on that list are used to describe a spoken line maybe once every blue moon (unless you're shelling an entrenched enemy or something, I would not typically recommend using "cannonade" as a verb, and even then, I would say "shell/bombard" instead). Aside from said and asked, the only tags I use with any frequency are "replied" and "added." Even those don't see much use. There are just so many better ways to put it. Less obtrusive ways.
     

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