1. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not using the 'asked' tag for a question in dialogue

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by OurJud, Aug 18, 2016.

    I can't really explain why this is, but I have a thing about not using asked as the tag for a question in dialogue, instead preferring the simple 'said'.

    If there is any logic behind this, it's because I consider 'said' to be the most invisible of the tags (a style preference - in fact during a two-way dialogue I hardly use them at all other than to introduce the first speaker)

    But
    my question is, is there anything grammatically wrong in not using 'asked' as the tag for a question?
     
  2. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    Nah.
     
  3. Spencer1990
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    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

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    There's nothing grammatically incorrect about tagging a question with the word said. You can use "said" with any dialogue as a tag.
     
  4. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks all. That was short and sweet.
     
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  5. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    In my opinion, asked is just as invisible as said.
     
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  6. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, it's certainly one of the more inconspicuous tags.

    I do use other tags. I think 'said' for everything would get very repetitive, but the alternatives should serve a purpose. And of course 'asked' does.
     
  7. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    I've seen one person say it's incorrect, and it must be 'asked' if the dialogue is a question.

    But that person was wrong. :D
     
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  8. Greenwood
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    Greenwood Active Member

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    I think it has to do with the vocal tone of the words in question. Asking is a sub-division of "saying". When you ask something, you are still speaking after all. Screaming, on the other hand, is not "saying", since "saying" in itself implies a moderate tone of expression. That's why things like whispering and shouting do need their own tag. That's my logic at least, I had never thought about this until the OP's question, but always did use them in this fashion. Interesting..
     
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  9. Francis de Aguilar
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    Francis de Aguilar Active Member

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    "Is it wrong not to use 'asked' as a dialogue tag, and merely use 'said', after all, there is a question mark, so it pretty damn clear that it's a question isn't it?"

    "Bit of a non-issue if you ask me. Any tea?"
     
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  10. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    I had one beta reader flag me for doing so (it was accidental, though... my use, not her flagging).

    They are both supposed to be invisible—said and asked—but I find if I get hung up on one or the other or both, they leap off the page at me until I run screaming.

    If the story is engaging enough, I don't think any reader who is there simply to enjoy the story will notice.
     
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  11. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    It wasn't me, was it?!
     
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  12. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    :) I had used 'said' where it should have been 'asked' or maybe the other way around. It was a legit flag on your part.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2016
  13. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    Ahh. I would probably flag 'asked' where it hadn't been a question, but I hope not the other way around. But sometimes I look back on stuff I've done/said and think wtf??
     
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  14. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    I do that almost daily... to my own stuff, not yours. :)
     
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  15. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Aha, but carry that to its logical conclusion. It's also pretty clear that the speaker is SAYING the phrase (out loud) no matter what the end punctuation might be. So using 'said' makes no more logical sense than using 'asked.' Or 'exclaimed,' or any other tag. But you do need a tag, otherwise the reader won't know who says what.

    If you prefer not to use 'asked,' there's nothing inherently wrong with that. Some people might hate using the word 'said,' because IT is so obvious, and they will strain to find a word that conveys exactly 'how' the dialogue is 'said.' Nothing wrong with that either—in moderation.

    The only thing 'wrong' is when your choice of tag distracts from the story. Repeating 'said, said, said, said' to the exclusion of everything else can become annoying if the repetition calls attention to itself. Anything can. So can flowery choices that yank the reader out of the story because they seem strained and unnatural.

    I'd say strive for enough variety so no tags are endlessly repeated. And use action beats as often as you can, because they will convey action and sometimes thoughts as well as just dialogue. If they are properly paragraphed to include the dialogue and identify the speaker, they really do work well. It's like the difference between a radio play and a movie. You get more visuals with beats.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2016
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  16. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm considering dropping all other tags in favour of Doyle's ejaculated. :)
     
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  17. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    You need variety, though. How about interspersing an occasional snorted or spat.
     
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  18. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    I used a 'scoffed' yesterday. No, seriously :meh:
     
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  19. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    I like scoffed. It gives a strong image without being cartoonish.

    But I think tags are very subjective.
     
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  20. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Don't use ejaculated and spat in close proximity or people may get the impression you're writing a different sort of novel.
     
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  21. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Wrong impression? Wrong impression? I just don't understand... :twisted:
     
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