1. John Carlo
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    John Carlo New Member

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    Said vs asked, after a question in a line of dialogue

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by John Carlo, Feb 27, 2012.

    Quick question. Is there a style preference or standard in dialogue when asking a question to follow it by she said vs she asked? For ex:

    "Did she go to the restaurant, or not?" he said.

    or

    "Did she go to the restaurant, or not?" he asked.

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  2. AntisocialMoose
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    AntisocialMoose New Member

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    I feel it is 100% stylistic.
  3. Jowettc
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    Jowettc New Member

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    In a quick straw poll of books near my computer:

    If you are tagging after a question use asked, e.g. "Did she go to the restaurant or not?" he asked.

    If you are stating it anywhere else don't e.g. He looked up from his half empty beer glass and said, "Did she go to the restaurant or not?"

    or omit completely if possible e.g. "Did she go to the restaurant or not?"
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Supporter Contributor

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    i agree it's best to word it so you can do without a tag... but if one is needed, 'asked' makes better sense after a question than 'said'...

    however, if the line of dialog consists of one or more statements, ending with a question, then 'said' might be best... so:

    and

  5. AmsterdamAssassin
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    AmsterdamAssassin New Member

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    Why not replace the speech tag with an action tag?
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Supporter Contributor

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    such as what?
  7. superpsycho
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    superpsycho Member

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    Personally I think it doesn't matter as long as it doesn't become repetitious. The object is to identify the speaker.

    With concern on his face "Did she go to the restaurant, or not?" or "Did she go to the restaurant, or not?" as he turned to leave.
  8. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Supporter Contributor

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    I would use "he said." Using "he asked" is redundant to me.
  9. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Senior Member Contributor

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    ^to me too. The "?" after the sentence already reveals someone is asking.
  10. digitig
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    digitig Senior Member Contributor

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    Why replace the speech tag with an action tag?
  11. digitig
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    digitig Senior Member Contributor

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    Each of those still needs a "he said" or " he asked", unless you're going for very unusual stylised prose.
  12. Daniel_Allan
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    Daniel_Allan New Member

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    Identify the speaker. Simple. If the two characters are exchanging many sentences, no need to tag them after a few exchanges (well, perhaps throw a tag in every now and then to keep people up to speed). If the characters are properly fleshed out, they'll have a particular way of talking (people do) and that should help identify the speaker.

    Good at this: "Lian Hearn" author of "Across the nightingale floor".
  13. Lightman
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    Lightman Member

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    "Did she got to the restaurant?" she sneezed vociferously.
  14. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    By action tag, I presume you mean a beat. A beat is a separate sentence adjacent to dialogue describing an action taken by the speaker at arounds the same time as the speech. A dialogue tag is affixed to the dialogue and expressly indicates who is speaking.

    Both are useful dialogue tools to have in your repertoire. So is knowing when neither is necessary because it is already clear who is speaking and what else is taking place at the time.

    The decision among the three options is not made on one dialogue fragment inj isolation, but in the context of the entire scene.

    Lightman: Your character is very talented indeed if she can sneeze a sentence. If that is meant to be a beat, She must be capitalized.
  15. digitig
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    digitig Senior Member Contributor

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    "He said" and "he asked" read differently to me, so "he asked" can't be redundant. If you were reading the following two sentences out loud, would you use the same intonation for the quoted part?
    1. "How do you do?" he asked.
    2. "How do you do?" he said.
  16. digitig
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    digitig Senior Member Contributor

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    She is clearly speaking in the sneezing language of el Kalatir. It developed in the pepper plantations there, where more conventional speech is impossible. Presumably that was explained elsewhere in Lightman's text.
  17. Lightman
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    Lightman Member

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    Cogito, it was meant as parody of bad dialogue tags.
  18. digitig
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    digitig Senior Member Contributor

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    Have you read any of Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next books? Much of the action takes place inside books, but behind the scenes in the parts that readers don't get to see. One consequence is that if there aren't enough dialogue tags even the characters themselves can't tell who is speaking:
    "Wait! Which one of us said that?"​
    "I don't know. I thought it sounded like the sort of thing you'd say."​
    "Really? I thought it sounded like you."​
    And so on. Very silly. And very funny.
  19. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Whew. It would be funnier if I didn't see that kind of dialogue writing all the time...
  20. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Supporter Contributor

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    I was not saying "he asked" is wrong. I was saying what I would personally use. Both of these examples get the same job done. I just prefer "he said" for the same reason I mentioned above. It is redundant to me. Also, I like having uniform tags as much as possible.
  21. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Senior Member Contributor

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    You could also place the 'beat' before what she/he says and eliminate the need for a dialogue tag after it and skip the risk of sneezing the answer. ;)

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