1. TheWritingWriter
    Offline

    TheWritingWriter Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2011
    Messages:
    106
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    A little to the left

    What You Like To Use In Replace Of 'Said'

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by TheWritingWriter, Jan 14, 2012.

    I searched this idea in the forums, in case I was one of many to do it, and I didn't find any results, so I'm hoping you guys haven't seen this a million times before. If you have, I apologize, and I will go crawl under a rock immediately.

    Now, down to business. I think all writers come across this problem eventually. "Oh, crap, I don't want to use 'said' again..." I think every writer has their little collection of "favorites" of their favorite/most used adjectives of the word said. For instance, mine are mused and chuckled. I wanted to know if anyone wanted to share theirs. Thanks for taking the time, guys. :)
     
  2. agentkirb
    Offline

    agentkirb Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2009
    Messages:
    494
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    Houston
    explained
    pointed out
    mentioned
    added

    Or if its emotion specific like 'moped' or 'raged' or 'demanded'. Honestly though, you could probably get away with using "said" a lot during dialogue or just not using tags at all.
     
  3. TheWritingWriter
    Offline

    TheWritingWriter Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2011
    Messages:
    106
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    A little to the left
    "Let's go to the park."
    "Why do you want to go to the park?"
    "Because it's a lovely day outside."

    Everyone uses this format, eventually, but of course you can't make all of your dialogues tagless throughout the whole novel. Eventually you're going to have to tag it, and most writers I've met get tired of using "said" over and over. However, I know what you're getting at. Sometimes I just use dialogue & then just describe their tone, or sometimes I'll insert dialogue and then one word to describe the emotion in his words, and using only one word provides great emphasis.

    Example: Johnny looked at Peanut, but didn’t answer, then turned his attention to Jay and ordered in a threatening tone, “Go.” Fury.

    I wish I could provide a better example, but this is from the document I had up at the time, and I don't feel like rifling through chapters right now.
     
  4. KP Williams
    Offline

    KP Williams Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2007
    Messages:
    608
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    My place
    You're likely to get a lot of responses stating that it's a bad idea to replace "said" with more colorful words, and for the most part, I agree with that. "Said" tends to be an invisible word for readers. You may notice it, but then again, you are the writer and will therefore notice every single word you write whether you want to or not. Readers have the luxury of ignoring certain words, grasping their meaning without really taking them in. If you end a line of dialogue with "said George," the reader will most likely only recognize the fact that the person speaking was George. Replacing "said" with something more descriptive is sort of like an irritating friend poking you in the side, trying to get your attention so he can show off how impressive a vocabulary he has.

    On the other hand, when used sparingly, I'd say that using a different word is not a problem. Only when the replacements begin to outnumber the thing they're replacing would I say we have some editing to do.

    Anyway, with that said, I don't have a whole library of things to stick into a dialogue tag. My most common ones (aside from said) are probably shouted, asked, explained, added, and sighed. I can't recall writing myself into a situation where another word would be needed, or even appropriate. My favorite way to handle dialogue is to make it clear through action or context who is speaking. This eliminates the need for any of those words altogether.
     
  5. madhoca
    Offline

    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,527
    Likes Received:
    88
    Location:
    the shadow of the velvet fortress
    I occasionally use 'answered/asked/shouted' type words, but mostly 'said' is fine by me. It's very annoying to have a long conversation where you lose track of who is speaking and have to trace the speaker back, so 'he/she/name said' is vital from time to time.

    My pet hate is words which do not describe speech used in place of 'said', e.g. 'laughed/fumed/giggled'. Also 'hissed', if there are no 'ess' sounds in the speech relating to it that would produce a hiss, and yes, 'chuckled'. If the character is chuckling or laughing, they can't be producing coherent speech at that point. Just before or after the laugh/chuckle etc, maybe.
     
  6. hoggyboy
    Offline

    hoggyboy Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2012
    Messages:
    133
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    VIC, AUS
    queried
    laughed
    chuckled
    tittered
    shouted
    yelled
    demanded
    questioned
    proclaimed
    declared
    demeaned
    snapped
    retorted
    responded
    replied
    added
    inquired
    continued
    started
    interrupted
    butted in
    told them
    announced
    declared
    screamed
    roared
    bellowed
    boomed
    echoed
    cried
    wept
    shrieked
    giggled
    snarled
    growled
    asked
    blurted
    said (obviously)
    burst out



    pretty much these and a couple of others
     
  7. TheWritingWriter
    Offline

    TheWritingWriter Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2011
    Messages:
    106
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    A little to the left
    This ^ Yes. Agree.
     
  8. Mark_Archibald
    Offline

    Mark_Archibald Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2012
    Messages:
    185
    Likes Received:
    3
    I fully agree with KP.

    If you want my two cents than I'd say take a look at 'To Kill a Mockingbird' there are several instances where Harper Lee replaces 'said' with another descriptor. Than look at the Harry Potter books and you will see 'said Harry/Hermoine/Ron/Dumbledore' all the time.

    Both are highly respected writers so I guess it comes down to the style you are developing.
     
  9. cari_za
    Offline

    cari_za Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2012
    Messages:
    51
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    South Africa
    I personally use dialogue as a great way to sneak in physical character detail and scene setting, and of course add tension.
    For example,
    "This is hot," he said, recoiling away from the mug of hot chocolate.
    "You said use boiling water!"
    "Yes, but you didn't have to make it this hot!"
    She shook her head.

    For me the best way to tell someone's character is by the choice of words they choose to use and the way they choose to say them. From reading other work I've picked up that one should try very hard for the words themselves to come across as they need to without having to directly say how they were intended.

    By reading writers and examining their work and by reading books on writing I've picked up the trick with anything is to decide if it adds to the story and adds tension. Only say something other than "said" if you want to tell the reader something about the character that you can't just tell them through the use of the words in the dialogue itself.

    I've pulled out a bunch of books from shelves and I have them piled up here so I can send you a few examples of other writer's works:

    My favourite; Fight Club, by Chuck Palahniuk:

    So we went outside and I asked if Tyler wanted it in the face or the stomach.
    Tyler said, "Surprise me."
    I said I have never hit anybody.
    Tyler said, "So go crazy man."
    I said, close your eyes.
    Tyler said, "No."


    I really had to hunt through the book to find a spot where "says" wasn't being used, and weird thing is I hadn't even noticed while I was reading the book how often he used "says":

    "Disaster is a natural part of my evolution," Tyler whispered, "toward tragedy and dissolution."
    I told the detective that it was the refrigerator that blew up my condo.
    "I'm breaking my attachment to physical power and possessions," Tyler whispered, "because only by destroying myself can I discover the greater power of my spirit."


    A clockwork orange by Anthony Burgess:

    "Everybody knows little Alex and his droogs. Quite famous young boy our Alex has become."
    "It's those others," I creeched. "George and Dim and Pete. no droogs of mine, the bastards."
    "Well," said the fat-neck, "You're got the evening in front of you to tell the whole story of the daring exploits of those young gentlemen and how they led poor little innocent Alex astray." Then there was the shoom of another like police siren passing this auto but going the other way.
    "Is that for those bastards?" I said. "Are they being picked up by you bastards?"


    A picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

    "I am sorry to have to have to wake you up Francis," he said, stepping in; "but I had forgotten my latchkey. What time is it?"
    "Ten minutes past two, sir," answered the man, looking at the clock and blinking.
    "Ten minutes past two? How horribly late! You must wake me at nine to-morrow. I have some work to do."


    ...

    "Alan! this is kind of you. I thank you for coming."
    "I had intended never to enter your house again, Gray. But you said it was a matter of life and death." His voice was hard and cold. He spoke with slow deliberation.


    Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

    "I'll put you down for table H," said Rosie's mother. "She'll be more comfortable there." She said it in the same way most people would say things like, "Do you wish to die quickly, or shall I let Mongo have his fun first?"
    "Right," said Fat Charlie. "well," he said. "Lovely to see you. Well," he said, "you must have lots of things to be getting on with. And," he said, "I need to be getting to work."

    (With the above example note how Neil Gaiman wrote "said" so often, and how it defines how flustered the character is. He could've summed the whole thing up with, "He said flustered", but instead he chose to convey it in such a way that you yourself thought "He seems flustered.")

    Edit:

    Whoops sorry forgot to actually conclude why I wrote all the above; I recommend not choosing from a list. Just use the right word for the right reason. If you really don't want to say "said" ask yourself why, does it help the reader see a side/quality of the character that hasn't already been shown through the use of dialogue.
     
  10. SuperVenom
    Offline

    SuperVenom Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2010
    Messages:
    478
    Likes Received:
    72
    Location:
    South Wales
    I like to use the word said when the text in question hasn't to much bearing on the conversation, like a retort or where no real emotion has to be shown in the quote, then use the meatier words for when the conversation hits an interest point or when real emphasis has to be place. So i always thought of it more as a word not to be used sparingly but more wisely, thats just me thought lol (excuse my spelling), failing that after the word said i might describe what the speaker is doing straight after the said, ie "That hurt" he said, rubbing his jaw trying to ignore the stinging. I have more of an issue with the word AS i think i sometimes over use that. Hope i don't take the post too far in wrong direction asking that lol :p

    Bit like what the above post said, i agree with that (really should read all the way down lol)
     
  11. Tesoro
    Offline

    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2011
    Messages:
    2,825
    Likes Received:
    290
    Location:
    A place with no future
    I think it's a bad idea replacing 'said' with something more creative. for the reasons that KP williams stated. if you think you have too many 'said's you can just leave them out in the places where it's already clear who's talking.
     
  12. Show
    Offline

    Show Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2008
    Messages:
    1,495
    Likes Received:
    30
    I got tired of using said too. I used to just leave them out but a certain user on here got me hooked on what she called "beats." Whatever we call them, I like the way my writing flows a little better. IMO, there's more action tied to the dialogue now and I think it's expanded my horizons a little. Said may still pop up from time and time when I really can't think of anything better, but I'd estimate I've cut a good 90% of them.
     
  13. astroannie
    Offline

    astroannie Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2011
    Messages:
    74
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    SE Texas
    The longer the piece, the less visible "said" becomes. If, for example, you're writing a short interview piece, it becomes a lot more noticeable if you use it than in a novel.
     
  14. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    the ones in bold can't be spoken, so make no sense a dialog tags... several others are questionable, but i left them to others to decide one way or the other...
     
  15. Kallithrix
    Offline

    Kallithrix Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2011
    Messages:
    394
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    UK
    This ^

    Most of the time the context and the dialogue should work together to imply how the words are said. By context I also include the character's physical actions and mannerisms - describing these is also a good replacement for a dialogue tag, both to show who is speaking and how they say their dialogue. i.e.

    John scowled from the edge of the bed as he watched her put on her make up. "I don't see why you have to go to your bloody work do in the first place."
    Katie rolled her eyes at him in the mirror and put down her mascara wand. "I've told you a million times. This is a really important client and I need this commission. Now that I'm the only one working-"
    "Oh great, throw that in my face again!" John launched himself off the bed and headed to the door. "Hope you have a nice time with your yuppie colleagues!"
    The door slammed behind him.

    Not a single dialogie tag is needed to know how those lines are said.

    But if dialogue tags are needed, then the only time I would replace 'said' is when you need to mention something about the physical way the line is delivered, like shouted or whispered, or muttered. 'Asked' or 'answered' are also acceptable when the dialogue is around questioning. But otherwise, I'd stick with said, because the reader doesn't even notice it after a while.
     
  16. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Do you worry what to use instead of "the"?

    The tag "said" virtually disappears to the reader. Authors tend to be far more conscious of it than readers.

    If your "said" usage is really obtrusive, don't blame the verb choice. Worry instead about your sentence structuring.
     
  17. cari_za
    Offline

    cari_za Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2012
    Messages:
    51
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    South Africa
    Ah yes, much better put. :)
     
  18. shadowwalker
    Offline

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2011
    Messages:
    3,299
    Likes Received:
    851
    I almost always go with 'said' or no tag at all. The only time I will use something else is if, for example, a response is truly ambiguous and/or very short ("Oh, really?"). Action could be used to 'explain' how the response was said, but it's smoother (for reader and writer) to use "dryly" or "angrily" in that case. JMO
     
  19. Protar
    Offline

    Protar Active Member

    Joined:
    May 11, 2011
    Messages:
    603
    Likes Received:
    13
    Location:
    UK
    Really, words should speak for themselves for the most part. From time to time a more interesting dialogue tag can be used be even then keep it simple: Mused, not pontificated; asked, not queried; shouted, not ejaculated. At best the reader will just gloss over it as they would with said. At worst it will interrupt their flow of reading and spawn an internet meme. For further reading I believe that TvTropes has a page on it under the title "said bookism". It's under the bad writing index.
     
  20. BFGuru
    Offline

    BFGuru Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2011
    Messages:
    510
    Likes Received:
    25
    Location:
    Somewhere in insomiaville
    I don't understand the idea of "you can not giggle and speak" or "weep and speak".

    I've seen many a woman drivel and sob and cry hysterically while speaking. Given it is broken speech. It is often hard to understand, but if my character is in fact doing thus, then "wept" would be an appropriate replacement for "said" and even better than using "said."

    The same goes with giggling or laughing. Once can speak, laugh, speak, laugh and speak again. To simply use "said" would not come close to conveying the emotion in use at this point.
     
  21. Kallithrix
    Offline

    Kallithrix Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2011
    Messages:
    394
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    UK
    You hit it on the head in the bolded text - you can giggle, speak, then giggle again, but you are not actually doing them AT THE SAME TIME. Just try to giggle and speak, or weep and speak at the same time. You have to break off one, however momentarily, to do the other. So no, 'wept' or 'giggled' is not an appropriate dialogue tag.

    And besides, using unnecessarily dramatic or descriptive dialogue tags is just bad writing.
     
  22. BFGuru
    Offline

    BFGuru Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2011
    Messages:
    510
    Likes Received:
    25
    Location:
    Somewhere in insomiaville
    I think denoting "bad" writing is more opinion in this case. Given it was pounded in my head that the word "bad" was considered bad writing as well. ;) Thank you Mrs. Cahoon, eighth grade reading teacher extraordinaire.

    But I digress. I think it works in certain situations since the breaking up and resumption of speech transition too quickly to denote one or the other. We wouldn't write...

    "I," she said, then cried. "can't," and then she choked on her words for no more than a second before proceeding with "believe," and then she wept again before saying "this," and then she choked again "is" she cried once more then spoke again "happening!"

    O.k. horrible example, but it makes my point. Haha.

    I read the word "wept", "laugh" or "giggle" and automatically the speech is broken in my mind. It works, poor writing or not, to convey the action taking place.
     
  23. Kallithrix
    Offline

    Kallithrix Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2011
    Messages:
    394
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    UK
    Er, no, it doesn't work. Although you wouldn't describe a sentence broken by weeping as you did - you'd never get published if you did! BUT you can convey the idea that someone is crying while they are speaking without using the verbs as dialogue tags. See my earlier post about using actions and descriptions instead of dialogue tags. You don't actually NEED to write 'I hate you!' wept Esmerelda as Bartholomew took her roughly.

    EVER.
     
  24. Kallithrix
    Offline

    Kallithrix Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2011
    Messages:
    394
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    UK
  25. agentkirb
    Offline

    agentkirb Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2009
    Messages:
    494
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    Houston
    Yeah, but that's just splitting hairs at that point. You can't do both at the same time, but usually people know what you mean if you say something like "he laughed". And you are correct to say that sometimes saying "he laughed" after dialogue is unnecessary. If the dialogue is "Haha, that's funny." You don't need to put "he laughed" afterwards because it's obvious. However, if a character tells a joke and the other guy says something like "Ok, you need to stop.", you convey a completely different scene if you don't say something like "he laughed" or "he said as he laughed" vs just having him say "he said".
     

Share This Page