The WordnomnomI have no problem with "said" but people tend to act like anyhting else is some horrible abomination. An example of that sort of opinion can be found below, as well as on this wiki. http://www.nytimes.com/2001/07/16/arts/writers-writing-easy-adverbs-exclamation-points-especially-hooptedoodle.html The idea seems to be the dialogue should tell the reader all they need to know about the manner something is said because everyone in real life always adds how angry or happy everything makes them. Of course, context clues can help some, but not everytime. More to the point, i think the current issue with avoiding words other than "said" is a matter of laziness. Why bother having Bob shout and Linda mutter and Susan cry when they can all just say? So when my Mary is confronting the death of her father whatever she may choose to deliver as her line, its going to be followed with "she chocked out between the sobs" rather than "she said" particularly if, say, the line in question is demonstrating an extremely conflicted emotional state otherwise any subtext will be lost to the plain text of what words she is saying.
While the breath's in his mouth, he must bear without fail, / In the Name of the Empress, the Overland Mail.
There's a difference between dialogue tags that actually give you information the context can't and Said Bookisms. And I think you're misunderstanding what 'the dialogue should speak for itself' means. Both
"I don't care!" Bob yelled angrilyand
"I'm so angry, I don't care!" Bob yelledsuffer from the same problem: Show, Don't Tell. Saying that the dialogue should be able to carry its own weight without the need for elaborate dialogue tags is not a call for all dialogue to state the characters' emotions, but to imply it.
Easily entertainedI fear I now have to stab you. Jesting aside, while I generally prefer "said" when writing, I have only one rule I'd consider absolute for others: if the reader consciously notices it, it's a problem. Otherwise, it's fine. I think the constant advising against Said Bookisms is simply because, while they have their place, they are more easy to over-use than under-use.
More to the point, i think the current issue with avoiding words other than "said" is a matter of laziness. Why bother having Bob shout and Linda mutter and Susan cry when they can all just say?Are you kidding? It's a matter of avoiding bad writing. It's not a matter of laziness. Using terrible words like "he concluded" or "she proliferated" is laziness, because the writer is either too lazy or too incompetent (or both) to get across their point without resorting to flatly saying it in the dialogue tags. And just so you know, no one has any problem with things like "shouted" or "asked", assuming of course that the person is actually shouting or asking something.
So when my Mary is confronting the death of her father whatever she may choose to deliver as her line, its going to be followed with "she chocked out between the sobs" rather than "she said" particularly if, say, the line in question is demonstrating an extremely conflicted emotional state otherwise any subtext will be lost to the plain text of what words she is saying.If you say "she choked out between the sobs" in a work you want to get published, whoever you submit it to will toss your manusrcipt in the garbage before they've finished that page. That's kinda the way the world works.
The idea seems to be the dialogue should tell the reader all they need to know about the manner something is said because everyone in real life always adds how angry or happy everything makes them. Of course, context clues can help some, but not everytime.No, that's not the idea at all, You've missed the point. It's the context, it's the description, it's the setting, it's the perspective. It's all those words around the dialogue that give us a feeling of what's going on without you having the bluntly tell us. All of the below are equally bad writing: -"What do you mean?" Bob seethed. -"What do you mean?" Bob said indignantly. -"What do you mean? I'm furious!" said Bob. -"What do you mean?" said Bob. He was furious!
edited 28th May '12 1:52:15 PM by jackpollock
Easily entertainedNow that jackpollock mentions it... while "she said" is insufficient, why not go with, "she said between sobs, " instead of "she choked out between sobs?" There is no extra information in "choked out" that is not already contained within "between sobs".
edited 28th May '12 1:53:26 PM by KillerClowns
Eye'm the cutest!
-"What do you mean?" Bob seethed. -"What do you mean?" Bob said indignantly. -"What do you mean? I'm furious!" said Bob. -"What do you mean?" said Bob. He was furious!The first one is ok if possibly needing a better word besides "seethed". The second is fine, no additions or edits needed. The third is straight Narm owing to the "I'm furious!". The fourth is by Aphrodite's backside absolutely horrible.
"Allah may guide their bullets, but Jesus helps those who aim down the sights."
Actually, I think that first one is an example of the most rage-inducing form of Said Bookism: the "he emoted" type of dialogue tag. "Bob said, seething" is acceptable, but one does not 'seethe', 'grin', 'frown', or other facial expression sentences.
The first two might not be quite AS bad as the last two, but I'd consider them all bad. Stephen King sums up the whole mess with adverbs and bad dialogue verbs pretty well in On Writing:
With adverbs, the writer usually tells us he or she is afraid he/she isn't expressing himself/herself clearly, that he or she is not getting the point or the picture across. Consider the sentence He closed the door firmly. It's by no means a terrible sentence (at least it's got an action verb going for it), but ask yourself if firmly really has to be there. You can argue that it expresses a degree of difference between He closed the door and He slammed the door, and you'll get no argument from me but what about context? What about all the enlightening (not to say emotionally moving) prose which came before He closed the door firmly? Shouldn't this tell us how he closed the door? And if the foregoing prose does tell us, isn't firmly an extra word? Isn't it redundant? Someone out there is now accusing me of being tiresome and anal-retentive. I deny it. I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops. To put it another way, they're like dandelions. If you have one on your lawn, it's pretty and unique. If you fail to root it out, however, you'll find five the next day fifty the day after that and then, my brothers and sisters, your lawn is totally, completely, and profligately covered with dandelions. By then you see them for the weeds they really are, but by then it's——GASP!!——too late. I can be a good sport about adverbs, though. Yes I can. With one exception: dialogue attribution. I insist that you use the adverb in dialogue attribution only in the rarest and most special of occasions and not even then, if you can avoid it. Just to make sure we all know what we're talking about, examine these three sentences: "Put it down!" she shouted.
"Give it back, " he pleaded, "it's mine."
"Don't be such a fool, Jekyll, " Utterson said. In these sentences, shouted, pleaded, and said are verbs of dialogue attribution. Now look at these dubious revisions: "Put it down!" she shouted menacingly.
"Give it back, " he pleaded abjectly, "it's mine."
"Don't be such a fool, Jekyll, " Utterson said contemptuously. The three latter sentences are all weaker than the three former ones, and most readers will see why immediately. "Don't be such a fool, Jekyll, " Utterson said contemptuously is the best of the lot; it is only a cliche, while the other two are actively ludicrous. Some writers try to evade the no-adverb rule by shooting the attribution verb full of steroids. The result is familiar to any reader of pulp fiction or paperback originals: "Put down the gun, Utterson!" Jekyll grated.
"Never stop kissing me!" Shayna gasped.
"You damned tease!" Bill jerked out. Don't do these things. Please oh please. The best form of dialogue attribution is said, as in he said, she said, Bill said, Monica said. If you want to see this stringently put into practice, I urge to read or reread a novel by Larry Mc Murtry, the Shane of dialogue attribution. That looks damned snide on the page, but I'm speaking with complete sincerity. Mc Murtry has allowed few adverbial dandelions to grow on his lawn. He believes in he-said/she-said even in moments of emotional crisis (and in Larry Mc Murtry novels there are a lot of those). Go and do thou likewise.
edited 28th May '12 2:55:33 PM by jackpollock
I certainly take the point that it's worthwhile to show things with context and agree that there's no point adding redundant tags if you have succeeded in showing. However, I like bookisms. Not all of them, but undoubtedly many that would be decried as bad writing. "She choked out between the sobs" is a sentence I enjoy on a visceral level in a way that I don't enjoy "she said between the sobs", and in many cases I also enjoy it precisely when my attention is called to a slightly awkward tag or word usage: it makes me think about why the author chose it, and if it's well placed, that speculation can give me insights into the work the same way any literary technique can. Not to mention there's a certain fun in a degree of self-aware flagrant verbosity. Now my enjoyment might well be a sign of immaturity as a reader or perhaps some kind of horrible brain disease, but it's nonetheless a fact and I don't think I'm alone in it. I think if you're planning to publish it's worth bearing in mind that certain habits might hurt your chances and limit your audience significantly, and adapting your style as appropriate as a practical measure. But I don't subscribe to the school of thought that holds that because a certain mannerism or technique is distasteful to some people (even most people) that automatically makes it invalid and bad, even though that does sometimes trap me into being tolerant of things I'd really like to dismiss as worthless garbage.
edited 28th May '12 4:02:37 PM by Kesteven
An opinion-based argument isn't a very good one, though, because it easily goes both ways. I, for instance, hate Said Bookisms (and all forms of Purple Prose, really) on an extremely fundamental level; it gives me a visceral feeling of loathing to read them. So I'm not prepared to buy 'some people like them' as a defense, because some people also hate them, and I see no reason why pandering to the one is preferable to pandering to the other.
Why need one pander at all? I think 'because that's how I want to write' is for many people a sufficient reason and if it's enough for them, it's enough for me. I might even go so far as to say I respect someone more for doing 'bad' writing that feels right to them than forcing certain conventions on themselves because they're told it's correct. My argument certainly isn't that everyone should write like this because some people like it, that would be silly. Just as silly as the argument that because some people don't like it, nobody should write in this way, which is what I'm arguing against. I think we need to separate the practicality of appealing to a wide audience from some kind of abstract quasi-moral principle of 'good' and 'bad'.
edited 28th May '12 4:21:43 PM by Kesteven
Rainbows hurt.Ugh... this is just another instance of "pleasing the gods I can't see". It's like when people go way out of their way to not write a Mary Sue character. I understand that taking in some guidence is essential to improving your writing skills, but I don't see anything wrong in saying "Bob seethed." Shakespeare made up a bunch of words; many of which we still use today. Now, you're probably thinking "oh great, he's pulling out the Shakespeare card to defend improper usage." Yes, I am. If only to prove that if your work can carry the modification of the English language, then go for it. It gives your writing personality. Seeing "said" after much of the dialogue feels redundant to me. It's like Chocolate Cotton said in Post 8: just don't go crazy with verbs and adverbs. But for that article to say never use anything but "said", I can't do that.
(屮≖益≖)屮 彡 ┻━┻ F*ck yo' table; Go read my book! —> http://goo.gl/mtXkm
Bieber My BallsI'm trying to cut back on my use of them. Certain words are probably never needed. Remarked, uttered, declared - things that don't actually provide any more context than 'said' does. (I actually personally like the word 'remarked', and feel that it does give slightly different context, but I still never use it in my writing.) 'Asked', of course, is simply the question version of 'said', and entirely OK to use, I think. 'Shouted' is the exclamation version, and I think it's also OK, because it's expected when the sentence ends in an exclamation point. 'Said' would simply feel out of place there, too weak and neutral. When I have several characters talking, I will, once in a while, use a Bookism just to add some variety. Muttered, suggested, guessed, joked - words that are absolutely Bookisms, but fairly mild ones, and ones which do convey a slightly different tone. And like I said, I try to keep them to a minimum, and mostly when there's at least three characters carrying on a conversation that makes the repetition of 'said' noticeable. I'll also occasionally describe an action they're taking while they speak. Not meant as a Bookism, but just to describe what they're doing. "Come here, " he waved. That sort of thing.
Flying DutchmanI have a rather short, rotating list of things to use, mostly consisting of the aforementioned said, questioned/asked, muttered, shouted/yelled, screamed (I find that this works better than silly all-caps writing), and remarked (I tend to use this to signal sarcasm, if it shows up at all). I generally try to stick to said, asked, and muttered, however. More extravagant dialogue tags usually just seem silly to me, and generally kill my immersion when I'm reading the work of another.
"Can ye fathom the ocean, dark and deep, where the mighty waves and the grandeur sweep?"
Element of loveUgh... this is just another instance of "pleasing the gods I can't see". I have to use that phrase ! well said
and in many cases I also enjoy it precisely when my attention is called to a slightly awkward tag or word usage: it makes me think about why the author chose it, and if it's well placed, that speculation can give me insights into the work the same way any literary technique can....noticing how bad the writing of a work is isn't a good thing.
I understand that taking in some guidence is essential to improving your writing skills, but I don't see anything wrong in saying "Bob seethed." Shakespeare made up a bunch of words; many of which we still use today. Now, you're probably thinking "oh great, he's pulling out the Shakespeare card to defend improper usage." Yes, I am. If only to prove that if your work can carry the modification of the English language, then go for it. It gives your writing personality. Seeing "said" after much of the dialogue feels redundant to me. It's like Chocolate Cotton said in Post 8: just don't go crazy with verbs and adverbs. But for that article to say never use anything but "said", I can't do that.Uh, look, I checked out the book in your signature and couldn't make it past the second page. Your prose is a fine example of WHY uselessly overusing unnecessary words in dialogue is bad, and I didn't even get to the first usage of dialogue. Has anyone actually read your (100, 000+ word!) book all the way through? Have you? There's nothing inherently wrong with being a bad writer. The vast majority of people are, and the vast majority of good writers started out as bad ones. But to revel in one's badness, and refuse to think that improvement is necessary, because apparently the history of Western Literature and every noted major author today and every noted expert on the subject are all just "subjective" or something and comparing yourself to Shakespeare as a result... well there's nothing I can really say to that.
edited 28th May '12 5:18:31 PM by jackpollock
Rainbows hurt.I know my work is bad; people have made that apparent to me. And I have been working to improve my writing. But we're not talking about me. We're talking about the article.
(屮≖益≖)屮 彡 ┻━┻ F*ck yo' table; Go read my book! —> http://goo.gl/mtXkm
Element of lovebeing a "bad writter" is entrirely subjetive. Don't give up There isn't bad art, only art that can be improved.
edited 28th May '12 5:41:43 PM by FallenLegend
Ave ImperatorI don't agree with that article, at least in regards to how its author feels you should never use any verbs other than "said" to carry a sentence. Naturally, the vast, vast majority of sentences should use an unmodified "said"-which is to say "he said" without any adverbs attached-in favor of any other bookism...Except in cases where a line of dialogue cannot adequately convey it's intended meaning and/or emotion as written. Even then, it's almost always preferable to rewrite the sentence so that it achieves its purpose without having to use a verb other than "said" to carry the sentence.
This is a signature. There are many like it, but this one is mine.
Writer's Welcome WagonI happened to write a blog post about this topic recently. But since I'm too lazy to self-promote, my stance is basically that you should be careful about being excessive, but you shouldn't make a big deal out of it if you see an author using some said bookisms.
BRB Being Gendo IkariWhat Chihuahua said. I try to throw in a few and cut the dialogue tag out of the sentence sometimes, because otherwise I'd be writing stuff like this:
"Bluh bluh, I hate said bookisms!" said Tre. "Well, using nothing but 'said' would be boring, " said Nora. "Eh, you've got me there, " said Tre.Now, I'd be okay with it if I were reading it but as a writer I'd have used "replied" on Nora's tag and cut Tre's second tag entirely.
edited 28th May '12 6:10:45 PM by Tre
I know my work is bad; people have made that apparent to me. And I have been working to improve my writing. But we're not talking about me. We're talking about the article.We are, and what I'm saying is that your prose just helps to show how your remark that "there's nothing wrong with 'Bob seethed'" is misguided. It's poor writing. That doesn't mean we don't all write stuff like that at times. Hell, right after the part of On Writing that I posted, Stephen King goes on to describe at length how he makes those mistakes just as much as anyone else. But it's about trying to minimize mistakes, not shrugging and saying that they're "subjective".
being a "bad writter" is entrirely subjetive. Don't give up There isn't bad art, only art that can be improved.Like this. I mean, what? I sure as hell wasn't telling him to give up, and he wasn't giving the impression that he (or she) was going to give up. I don't know if I quite get this site. For a place for aspiring authors, it seems the prevailing attitude is actively antithetical to, y'know, improving people's writing.
Element of loveI am for improving too
Writer's Welcome Wagon
I don't know if I quite get this site. For a place for aspiring authors, it seems the prevailing attitude is actively antithetical to, y'know, improving people's writing.Writer's Block is a little more vocally cynical/realist than the right side of the fora. Or something to that effect. We tend to never be sunshiney.
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