Said Bookisms:

Total posts: [37]
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26 Pinata12th Jan 2011 10:04:07 AM from on your ceiling
I find use of the same dialogue tags over and over again to be either boring or infuriating, and therefore vary them quite a bit in my own work. Since "said" is a pet peeve of mine, I'm not going to stop even though it seems to be frowned upon on this site. I also tend to prefer the work of writers who use frequent alternative dialogue tags.
No breasts/scrotum on that last post. Shit just got real. -Bobby G
27 Dec13th Jan 2011 07:30:29 AM from The Dance Floor
Stayin' Alive
I don't think its as big of a deal as some people make it out to be, especially the really common and simple ones, like asked or whispered. Those ones aren't really distracting (or rather, aren't ejaculated), and add detail and emphasis to dialogue quickly. Its really hard to not overuse it, though, which I think is the real problem with this and with dialogue-tag adverbs — if everything is whispered insistently or a yelled flippantly, its insanely easy to get lazy and slide into telling over showing, and in the process destroying emphasis.
Nemo enim fere saltat sobrius, nisi forte insanit
28 almyki14th Jan 2011 11:22:04 AM from Maryland, USA
I am the same as Pinata, I get annoyed at 'said' too often. Partly because I vaguely remember an English teacher or two saying you using 'said' all the time was bad practice an boring, partly because it seems awkward and redundant if used too often to me.

This is the first I've heard that using 'said' all the time was actually preferred practice, and excessive use of other tags to be frowned upon. However, I do appreciate that; now I'll feel much safer in using the occasional plain old 'Danny said' .

That's not to say I'm a total convert. It still feels like a waste of space to say, usually.

I tend to use a variety of other words like 'whispered', 'yelled', 'suggested'. I try to reword sometimes too from just 'he whispered', 'Anna yelled', to 'the suggestion in her voice made him pause', 'the question came out as a whisper', etc..

And then, with just a string of dialogue between two people, I just omit any tags after establishing to order.

Anna screamed at him, "Shut up!"

"No, you!"

"Why can't you just leave me alone?!"

"Oh, play the victim card!"

And then often I also don't waste the space telling who 'said', 'quipped', 'announced', at all, and spend the time talking about something else of the character.

"I knew you'd come," How did Erik know she was there with his eyes closed?

She waited a beat before realizing he wasn't going to say anything else, "Well duh, it's a date, right? Did you think I'd flake out on you?"


So really, I just use a variety of possibilities for 'said', whichever seems most useful at the time, and I think it works out for me. Plain old 'he said' 'she said' is now in my retinue as well, I guess. Strangely, while I have a hundred and one other pet peeves in writing that I find hard to work around or awkward, this isn't one of them at all.

<3 ali
29 deathjavu14th Jan 2011 03:19:25 PM from The internet, obviously
This foreboding is fa...
I just figure "said" alternatives are there to describe how someone said something, which can't always be inferred just from the text. Or at least I can't always infer it from the text, especially in my own writing  *.

Of course there's always a risk of overuse, but eh.
Look, you can't make me speak in a logical, coherent, intelligent bananna.
The use of Said (or Says) I feel can convey what someone means well enough. When you use another verb to convey how they say it, have it accentuate and highlight their character. This can relate to the use (and possible abuse) of adverbs also; they can help refine the nuances of a verb — and in clumsy writing can weaken the verb's 'effect.'

"Put it down!" Shion shouted.

"Give it back!" Lo Wang pleaded. "It's mine"

"Don't be a fool, Lo," Shion said.

Now look at the following dubious revisions:

"Put it down!" Shion shouted menacingly.

"Give it back!" Lo Wang pleaded abjectly. "It's mine."

"Don't be a fool, Lo," Shion said contemptuously.

These latter sentences are all weaker than their former counterparts. I hope you see why. "Don't be a fool, Lo," Shion said contemptuously is a cliche, while the other two are actively ludicrous. Such dialogue attributions can be known as "Swifties" — after Tom Swift.

And some writers try evading this no-adverb rule by flaunting their said verbs with full of purple:

"Put down the gun, Shion!" Raki grated.

"You damned culo, you don't tell me what to do!" Shion gasped.

"You tease!" Raki jerked out.


And for a further example of abusing Said Bookisms — see here for a dissertation of Twilight's dialogue tags.

edited 14th Jan '11 10:18:34 PM by QQQQQ

highly secure that a Higurashi/Claymore crossover?
Whatcha gonna do, little buckaroo? | i be pimpin' madoka fics
Jajaja, no. From an original work I'm thinking of — but Raki's name I did borrow from Claymore. I never watched Higgy before.
33 LoniJay14th Jan 2011 10:21:15 PM from Australia , Relationship Status: Pining for the fjords
So, are 'swifties' to be considered just as bad as said bookisms?
Be not afraid...
Is no dichotomy — either just plain ol' boring 'said', or so goodly 'ejaculated happily'. Try reading my above post once more.

edited 14th Jan '11 10:28:17 PM by QQQQQ

are you pondering?
What I try to do is have the character DO something; the action helps establish both who's talking and what the tone is. It also gives a mental picture to go along with the 'audio track' of the dialogue.

Honestly? 'said' isn't all that big a deal. It can be distracting for a reader, but there are certainly story crimes that are far, far worse.
36 Rexila2nd Feb 2011 10:15:29 AM from frigid lands of Ontario
Draws some Dinosaurs
I wonder what I would have been like if I never had to read The Magic Treehouse books out loud. Would I be a better writer today? Would I still fall into the trap of Said Bookisms? Would I be able to write to word 'said' without flinching?

And in plain English, what I'm getting at here is The Magic Treehouse series used 'said' as the only dialogue tag ever, for every line of dialogue, leading me to say 'said' so many times it started to leave a horrible taste in my mouth. I'm probably exaggerating from emotion and memory, but it still lead me to avoid using 'said' like it was poisonous. I'm a little better about it now, but there are times where I feel like I need to be more specific than 'said', or like I've used 'said' too much. Y'know.

Basically, I am original as I, too, believe that you can use words other than said when it's important to how the line is delivered. 'Said' vs. 'exclaimed' vs. 'whispered' vs. 'growled', et cetera. *Thumbs Up*
37 Morven3rd Feb 2011 04:04:03 PM from Seattle, WA, USA
I'd also say that Said Bookisms are far from the worst writing sin out there in published fiction, so if you feel the need to use them, use them. Just keep them simple. The biggest problem with them is that they can become a crutch for poor dialog or description.
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Total posts: 37
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