With that being said, I believe there is more room for a variety of verbs in fiction than there is in non-fiction. First, let’s look at a couple of those bad verbs Leonard cites and pin down why they aren’t good. I think the bank closes in 15 minutes," said Mark. Ian Rankin, whom I talked about two blogs ago, is one of them. If you are seriously considering hiring a copy editor to work on your novel and you’d like to try me out, ask me to copyedit some of your pages. There's plenty of room," said John. I realized that there are more ways to add dialogue tags. Need help improving your dialogue? Marcus, I appreciate your balanced approach. “I can’t believe you said Japan is larger than Australia in the quiz.”. he asks me. A simple tag, such as "said Granny" or "she said," is almost invisible to the reader, so it's OK to use it as needed. So who’s right? We have to go,” he replied. But just because you have options, does that mean should you exercise them? “Said” is invisible, they insist; anything else is distracting at best, clunky and awkward at worst. I am in the Leonard camp, but I admit I stray with asked, snarled and lied from time to time. I’ve edited out the mistake in the previous comment; thanks for pointing it out. In the second example, the dialogue is interspersed with setting. Glad you liked the blog. The girls’ actions make it clear she’s the addressee of ‘You seem distracted.’ Her response also gives us a sense of how her date says this. This post in a way did all the heavy lifting. It’s a pleasure. I'd suggest that you read for flow, aloud to yourself. We’re entering highly subjective territory here. He backs up his argument for only using said by rattling off a few highly undesirable verbs when he gives examples demonstrating the perils of veering from said, and he ignores verbs for which sounder arguments can be found. Apps like Grammarly and Pro Writing Aid can also suggest synonyms and provide alternative words, as can a site like Thesaurus.com. Citing how awful ‘said I’ or ‘said he’ sounds is a good argument for not putting the verb first when using pronouns, but not necessarily an argument for never putting the verb first, since the verb-first style with names (‘said John’, ‘said Ann’) isn’t so awful — though, as I said, to me it comes across as old-fashioned. ‘Feel free to pass on the link to this post using Twitter, Facebook, and so on,’ Marcus asseverated (sorry, Mr Leonard). You’re being intense again, Guy.”. Using said alone is entirely in keeping with the macho dynamics of Leonard’s novels, whose characters keep their cards close to their chests and are more likely to pull a gun than gasp or grumble. He is also the host of the Publishing Profits Podcast show where we interview successful authors and publishing industry experts to share their tips for creating a successful writing career. By using the verb to mutter, Rankin tells the reader exactly how Rebus says the line – in a low voice with a note of irritation in it. atmosphere. We watch the same TV programs. cried his wife impatiently. It is what a character says. Use emotive other words for said to season characters’ conversations. "I am going to the bank before it closes," said John. In this post, the second in a two-part series, Trupkiewicz follows up on her discussion of realistic dialogue with an impassioned plea: stick to said. I’m no expert on mid-grade books, but I did edit a Web series for ESL kids. The advantages of showing who said what via movement and gesture are: Using gestures and actions such as the following, as outlined above, helps to lend character and emotion to dialogue: Also think about ways to say said that convey volume and tone, i.e. Other words for ‘said’ can indicate: The relation between these elements of voice are also important. thanks, I’m writing a novel about wolves with elemental wolves and I needed help with dialogue thank you sooooo much! Because it’s clear the glaring first-person ‘I’ is the character speaking at first, we don’t need to add ‘I said’. He’s on his own. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. 2. One side argues that the only dialogue tags necessary are said and asked. Be sure to refresh the page by pressing both the Ctrl key and the F5 key to ensure you are seeing the latest version.. Good luck to you, too! "Do not you want to know who has taken it?" “It’s not a choice. 2. “I don’t care. But said is far less intrusive than grumbled, gasped, cautioned, lied.’. But not all verbs other than said should necessarily be treated with suspicion. Synonyms for said that show volume include: The above words remind us that tags that indicate volume and tone are typically reserved for extremes – of tension, emotion or environment. So: Either form you gave is fine. Other verbs writers sometimes try to use in the same way as to gasp include to chuckle, to sigh and to laugh (I say ‘try to’, since we copy editors are likely to cull them). Dialogue tags: she said/he said is almost invisible when read on the page. So, chuckled, sighed and laughed should be rejected as dialogue carriers before you’ve even thought about whether it’s possible to chuckle, sigh or laugh a sentence, which of course it’s not, and so should other verbs of their kind. ‘Time to get your ears checked,’ Rebus said to himself. Just as the question mark at the end of a line of dialogue indicates someone’s asking a question, quotation marks enclosing dialogue tell the reader someone is saying something. But unthinking overuse of certain words is a bad habit. Or only on aggregate from the individual holdings? Another category of verbs authors sometimes use consists of ones that are more or less synonyms for said. Looking for a specific word? The eye skims over it. The only exception is if you're talking about something which happened in the past relative to the present moment of the story. I’m not going.” Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. 5. “Where are you going?” Glad you found it interesting. In a visual novel game with optional sidequests, how to encourage the sidequests without requiring them? When it comes to dialogue tags, one size does not fit all. It would be strange, for example, for a character to ‘sneer’ the words ‘I love you’, since the word ‘sneer’ connotes contempt which is contrary to love. Pingback: The Weekly Roundup of Blogs, Articles, Information and all that other good stuff! We have to go,” he replied firmly. When I’m not editing, you can find me on the mats, practising and teaching Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. “I told you: I don’t want to go,” she pouted. Words to use instead of SAID. Who’s right? Another verb you can make a good argument for using is asked. A dialogue tag is group of words following quoted speech (e.g. You can use the tag to indicate how the character speaks the dialogue by using words other than said (or asked), but don’t do this too much. One of his invisibility cloaks is rule three: ‘Never use a verb other than said to carry dialogue.’ He says, ‘The line of dialogue belongs to the character; the verb is the writer sticking his nose in. Words: © Marcus Trower 2013. I don’t know what a Leonard disciple would do here. Making statements based on opinion; back them up with references or personal experience. Most of the writers of the novels I edit more or less follow Leonard’s injunction. One option is to keep dialogue tags to minimum. Check out our detailed post on how to write better dialogue tags for more information. It only takes a minute to sign up. Yet the characters feel a little like talking heads in jars. The 10 Most Common Grammar Mistakes and How To Avoid Them, Common Grammar Myths You Should Ignore in Your Writing. Replied, responded and answered. When do we ever see the "commander" on xcom game? "Maybe I should come with you," said Mark. Verbs like gasped, chuckled and laughed. An infographic by Grammar Check lists 222 words that can be used instead of “said.” Just Publishing Advice goes even farther and recommends 350 alternatives. As always, I’ll focus on issues I commonly see in manuscripts. Terry Pratchett, one of the best dialogue writers today, in my opinion, uses "said Granny" rather than "Granny said" in his dialogues everywhere. I’m glad to hear that, Johnny. On the other hand, if you do think someone can, say, both laugh and speak simultaneously – and I advise you to try whatever combination of action and speech you wish to portray – you might want to add a present participle after the dialogue-carrying verb, like this: ‘I can’t believe you think Timothy Dalton was a better Bond than Sean Connery,’ Rita said, laughing.