1. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    "said Mark" versus "Mark said"

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Steerpike, Nov 14, 2010.

    Question for the grammar gurus. I tend to eliminate dialog tags as much as possible, and when I do use them I almost always use "said."

    Typically, I will use "said" followed by the name. For example:

    "I went to the movies last night," said Mark.

    Recently, someone told me that was archaic, and that the more accepted modern usage is to put the name first, and the tag after:

    "I went to the movies last night," Mark said.

    Has anyone else heard this?

    I flipped through a few recently-written books and sure enough the name was first.
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It isn't a grammar issue. Both forms are acceptable. It's a matter of popular usage, and speaker preceding verb is more common in current writing. In trailing tags, the difference is far less noticeable than in leading tags.

    This was actually discussed fairly recently.
     
  3. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Yes, I've noticed this as well. Personally, I don't mind it either way, although it would be better to stick to modern standards.
     
  4. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Thanks, Cogito. I thought I remembered a thread about this, but my search-fu was weak, and I couldn't remember what the consensus was.

    If the speaker preceding the verb is more common today, do you think it is something that is worth changing in a manuscript? I don't really care which is used, I just use the speaker following verb by habit. I could change it relatively painlessly.

    Thanks, thirdwind. Makes sense.
     
  5. lumivalko
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    lumivalko Member

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    You know, knowing that "Mark said" is used more usually than "said Mark" I might use the latter just because of that. Trying to be different for the win! :p
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Being different for the sake of being different isn't different at all. It's the most common way novice writers try to get their writing noticed, and no one is taken in by it.

    Writers don't find their unique voice by being ostentatiously quirky. That unique voice is already within them. The only need to practice until they have mastered the fundamentals and are confortable enough for their natural voice to flow forth.
     
  7. miss_darcy
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    miss_darcy Member

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    I honestly think that it also depends on the voice through the writing (wow, AP English coming in handy). If you're novel is set in the past "said Mark" would probably flow better with the writing. But if the novel is more modern "Mark said" would probably flow better. I think it all depends on the writing style in the novel.
     
  8. lumivalko
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    lumivalko Member

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    I really wasn't serious in my previous message. It's kind of, self-ironic.

    But really, I think that if "said Mark" is more natural to you I don't see any valid reason to change it. "Because all others" is just blah. Also I agree with both Cogito and miss darcy.
     
  9. Reggie
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    Reggie I Like 'Em hot "N Spicy Contributor

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    I tend to use the "said" before Mark, because I find it more comfortable than writing Mark said. I find it odd to have the name first than the last. Maybe I find it odd because I read more books beginning with "said" before the person's name. I came across some stories that have the dialogue tag starting with the person's name first, but for God's sake, I write the other way around.
     
  10. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have never, ever thought about this, and I don't really care to know which one I do and which one is right. :/ It seems a bit silly and something you'd only notice because people have pointed it out to you...

    Damnit, and someone has now to me. It's like thinking about breathing! Well, I am going to do my best to forget. :p
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i'd change/stick to the modernday usage if i were you... the 'old-fashioned' form may well appear pretentious or merely amateurish to agents/publishers you're hoping to impress... it certainly would to me, if i were still a salaried editor...
     
  12. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm so used to reading "Mark said" rather than "said Mark" that I find it incredibly uncomfortable reading stories where the name is placed last. On a few occasions I have even stopped reading if the story wasn't good right away.
    Not sure if I contributed to anything, but that's the opinion of someone from the "young generation" :p
     
  13. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, makes sense. I am not personally tied to either way of doing it, I've just been in the habit of doing it one way. Might as well change it to conform to the more accepted usage.

    Dialog tags become more or less invisible to me (at least to my conscious mind) when I read, so I don't really care which the author uses. But your point of view is another good reason to use the more accepted format :)
     

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