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Thursday, May 17, 2012

And So She Said

Over on Pinterest, a couple of people have posted a picture with a list of words a writer can use other than said. I'm assuming it came from some blog, but I haven't clicked through to check, but it leaves me wondering why any writer would pin this.

There's a couple of reasons why I feel this way. For one, some of the suggestions are just plain bad. For example instead of he said, according to this you could write he laughed. Um, what? People don't talk while they're laughing. Are seriously thinking this is a good construction? "Jane," he laughed, "" No. Just no.

The other reason I'm not enamored with this pin is the word said disappears for the vast majority of readers. Most will barely know they saw it, but that doesn't happen with other words, especially the more memorable.

In fact, I spent time taking these substitutes for said out of my earlier work before I republished them in ebook format. If a character is constantly speaking in a hiss, I can only wonder if they're part snake. :-) In my defense, I didn't have hiss originally--that got added in edits--but I didn't take them out again when I went through the story before it was printed. The buck stopped with me, so my responsibility. But I had a chance to change it and that's what I did. If you see hissed in the story now, it's because I made the conscious decision to keep it there for a specific reason.

My advice is to use anything other than said or asked sparingly. The last thing I want is to jar anyone out of my story and unusual dialogue tags can do just that. There's a difference between using an "invisible" word and repetition.