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He said, She said.

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Mon Mar 28, 2011 9:39 am
Confictura says...



I'm pretty good at dialogue, at least, I like to think so.
My real problem is at the end.
"We need to get to the house." He said
"Okay, we should take the dirt road" She said
"We need our dirt bikes for that." He said
"How about we just take one?" She said
"Good idea" he said.
this is an extremely quick segment written up for example purposes, do not judge my skill in dialogue by this passage

See the problem? He said, she said. I know of other words to use, like He 'exclaimed' or she 'shouted' but when they aren't actually screaming at eachother it's hard to add variety to dialogue like that.

So my question is, what other words can I use for normal speaking?
Help, help! I'm being repressed!




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Mon Mar 28, 2011 3:48 pm
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Rosey Unicorn says...



First, your dialogue punctuation is wrong. It should be:

"We need to get to the house," he said.

That out of the way.

I rarely, if ever, use "said tags" because they do get boring. I prefer to use action tags.

Since I'm on a computer that makes typing difficult, I'll just copy/paste an example. :P

My father’s gaze turned pleading. “You know what would await you in Shenora. They’re not as forgiving as the North.”

I still didn’t waver. “I know.”

Mother clasped her hands in front of her. I could sense both her temper and her appreciation. “We… are impressed with your dedication to this position. But, we’re not sure you understand the… limits placed on women in the Tijal province.”

Family said I got my restrained temper from my mother. “I understand them very well. And I doubt they’ll be able to stop me from protecting my sister.”

My father leaned against the table. “The Emperor could order you. What would you do then?”

I squeezed Ghada a little tighter. “I’ll answer that if it happens.”


I just use actions to give clues about the tone of voice and who's speaking. I call them "action tags" and use them most often, using the odd "said tag" in between.

Let me know if this helps.
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Mon Mar 28, 2011 10:27 pm
Twit says...



I pretty sure someone (Stephen King?) said that using "said" was good because when reading, you tend to skip over it and focus instead on the dialogue, which is what you're meant to focusing on. Using fancy tags can get really obvious and ineffective. Sometimes, nothing beats a good said.
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Tue Mar 29, 2011 9:40 pm
PhoenixBishop says...



I agree with what Twit and Rosey said. Said is what one would call a invisible word. Nobody notices much unless some attention is drawn to it. For example if you had a sting of back and forth speaking with the tag said, then yeah it will start to get annoying, but if you break up dialogue with actions, and description then it blends into the whole. Also being as that there are only two characters you can drop the tag altogether.
Last edited by PhoenixBishop on Wed Mar 30, 2011 6:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.




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Tue Mar 29, 2011 10:02 pm
Rosey Unicorn says...



Just because I'm extremely picky about tags, doing what's called "double tagging" (both an action tag and a said tag) drives me up the wall because it's redundant— I find it's best to only use one style of tag for lines of dialogue (unless it's a very long piece of dialogue and a pause is needed).
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Sun May 01, 2011 7:02 am
ilyah says...



Also, adding on to the other advice, if you really feel like having interupted (usually fast paced) dialogue, you could always drop the tags altogether after using them a few times to clarify line order:
"We need to get to the house." he said.
"Okay, we should take the dirt road" she said.
"We need our dirt bikes for that."
"How about we just take one?"
"Good idea"


Also, instead of 'he' or 'she' you could use their names.




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Sun May 01, 2011 3:32 pm
lilymoore says...



The thing is, sometimes you don't even need tags. Tags can get old and repetitive as you've obviously noticed. And sometimes you don't. If you've got two characters speaking to each other at once, remember that readers aren't stupid enough to figure out that the first line is one character and the second line is the second character and so on. Even with three characters, using tags after every single line isn't necessary though you should still throw one in every few lines here and there so that readers don't get confused.
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Mon May 02, 2011 4:24 pm
Shearwater says...



I'm going to say that using 'said' is actually quite good than using other tags. Said is simple and I know it's repetitive but when you feel like it's getting old, just take it out. Use some action tags in place but don't drown it in action tags either but that can also slow down your writing. Keep your dialogue simple, this way readers don't have to focus on little things and rather on what exactly it is that the characters are trying to say to each other.
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Mon May 02, 2011 5:08 pm
ultraviolet says...



To wrap up what everyone's said (no pun intended), let me just say that there are a lot of great techniques and things available to use, all of which are commonly accepted. The key, though, is not focusing on using one kind of tag over and over - that's as redundant as saying "He said, She said," a thousand times through. What you need is variety. Use all of them, some more sparingly than others, and use them to your advantage.

I find that which tag is best suited for the moment generally just flows from me naturally, but if you're really having problems, try thinking about what you're trying to convey, what information you might want to add with the tags and if it's necessary/adds something. Then, pick on. And don't get too hung up over it - there's always editing, editing, editing to do later if you don't like how it is now.

And don't worry - if you practice this all enough, soon it'll come natural, just like any other part of writing.
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Tue May 03, 2011 4:13 am
Jash says...



Hello there. First off, I'd have to say that your examples were, in English standard is wrong. I'll give you a correction:

"We need to get to the house," he said
"Okay, we should take the dirt road," she said
"We need our dirt bikes for that," he said
"How about we just take one?" she said
"Good idea," he said.


Got the idea? This is very important. You see, they're called dialogue tags and are pretty much part of the sentence.

Now, for your questions. You can add variety to your dialogue by changing the position of the dialogue tag, like:

"Okay," she said, "we should take the dirt road."


Did you the difference?

Another thing I'd like to tell you is that, if there are only two people speaking, like. For example let's name the guy Jack, the girl Jill. When the reader gets the flow of the dialogue, it's actually not necessary to repeat the he said, she said. You could also add narration to the dialogue.

You seem to know a lot of other dialogue tags. Let me show you of how I'll rephrase this:

"We need to get to the house," Jack said, scratching his head.

"Okay, we should take the dirt road," Jill replied.

"We need our dirt bikes for that." Jack stood up and started to look for the bikes.

"How about we just take one?" Jill asked.

"Good idea."


Did you see how I didn't have to use a dialogue tags at the other lines? That will keep you from using said, if that's what your aiming for.

But I have to clear up one more thing: said has such versatility that none other English dialogue could provide. It's OK to use it over and over again. At times, use exclaim or shout or whatever else. But said is still the best. ;)

Hope I've helped.

Jash ♥
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