Bored With “Said”? Try This Instead

Instead of ‘said’

Jens Thoughts

Okay, apparently I’m enjoying quick lists and bright colors! I love the short bursts of useful tips that you can use in your writing area. Said is one of the most common words in writing, so here are 100 different ways to write it. This keeps things fresh and helps us stretch our vocabulary.

100 words

Until Next Time…

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11 thoughts on “Bored With “Said”? Try This Instead

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  1. I used to look at this very list when I first started writing, and then I began to read James Scott Bell and lots of others on how to write dialogue. Without exception, every single book says the same thing. Don’t use other words for “said,” because “said” disappears to readers. I’ve notice that in the books I love the most, whenever attribution is needed, which doesn’t have to be that often, they ALL use “said,” nearly, exclusively. Maybe 99% of the time, with the occasional “asked,” or “whispered.”

    Another reason not to use some of these words is because it is physically impossibly to say recognizable words via the attributive verb. You can’t speak and gulp at the same time, for instance.

    Now I know some rules can be bent a bit, and some can be completely broken, but for myself, I tread very carefully with this one. I’ve read it is a real red flag with publishers, and is often considered a sign of a new writer. I’d say think it through carefully, and then 99 out of 100 times, either forego the attribution totally, or use said.

    You can forego the attribution if you add an action: She jumped up from the chair. “Oh, no you don’t!” No need to attribute that. It’s obviously “She” speaking. And in a back and forth, as soon as you establish the speakers, you can drop attribution, too, at least for a while:
    “Come here, please,” she said.
    John gave her a dirty look. “No.”
    “Why not?”
    “Because I don’t feel like it.”
    “Okay, be that way.”

    This is, as always, a personal choice, but when so many, many experts agree, it’s probably the right one, too, at least most of the time. I do see some words on this list I might use (rarely) for a slight change of pace, but not many, I’m afraid. Variety is good in writing, for sure, but apparently not so much so in this case, I’m learning.

    For a quick reference that touches on this and other ways to snap up dialogue, I highly recommend James Scott Bell’s “How to Write Dazzling Dialogue.” I learned a TON of stuff from this little book.

    What do you think, Debra? Did I convince you? 🙂 It took me a while to understand the why of this one, too, but now that I do, I’m very happy with losing most attributions, and using “said” for the rest.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m working more and more toward not needing them, too, but when I do, I mostly stick with “said.” I do like an occasional “muttered,” and I’m guilty of using “whispered” probably more than I should. But otherwise, it’s pretty much do without, or use “said,” these days. Now I can find lots of other uses for these words, though…especially if I’m skipping the attribution in favor of an action line. Instead of “I’m scared,” she shuddered,” for instance, I try to do something She shuddered with fear. “I’m scared.”

        So much to learn, and lots of different opinions and suggestions. It’s all fun for me, though. I love it.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Me, too, Debra. And the fun thing (I think it’s a fun thing) is that next year, it might all shift a different direction. For sure, many of the great books from even a few decades ago are written in a way that isn’t being published today. So, like everything else in life, change is the only constant. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

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