Recently I have been far more active on Scribophile than I have been in a while. In fact, my level went up to Typesetter. Throughout my writing, I try to keep it changed up and have a variety of words. One of the most challenging words I have encountered is said. He said/she said.
I was reading someone’s piece on Scribophile and almost every single time there was dialogue contained said. It made it hard to properly engage with the story because I could only guess at how people were saying each piece. Being a culprit of this myself, I of course provided feedback that he should try to show us how each character is speaking.
But what words do you use instead of said? It all depends. You want to find words that convey the conversation. Here are a few that might come to mind:
These five are all better words than said but at the same time, they are all words that appear frequently, especially the top three.
Let’s get a little more creative than that. One of my favorite replacements for said is “bellowed” because it can be so versatile depending on the character speaking. It can be a little overused though. Here are some creative word choices for said.
Now that I have given you some more ideas, let’s talk about two more important items to keep in mind when it comes to dialogue tags. First, remember to be creative and stay to the nature of your story. Not every dialogue word has one meaning. You can use them versatilely in a story for multiple meanings.
A good example of this is “shouted”. Depending on how you use the word, shouted could mean excitement, anger, or even sadness. Context is key.
The second point that I want to bring up is dialogue tags are not always needed. Dialogue tags serve a purpose from time to time but you should use them with discretion in mind. Most dialogue speaks for itself.
“Get out of here you god damn roach.”
That sentence is a good example of where you could go without a dialogue tag if you wanted to. Context permitted, you wouldn’t need it at all.
Take all of this to mind and keep an eye out for more writing tips and education. I am going to try and put out short articles like this once a week or once every other week. Today I submitted a short story to another contest. Once the contest winners have been announced I will post a really great story that is related to both Purple Fire and writer’s block.