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Sun Mar 02, 2008 4:21 am
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thunder_dude7 says...

Many inexperienced writers say that they never using said. Why? English class. We are told to never use said. This only proves a point: You don't notice when somebody uses said. For pete's sake, the novels you read in English use "said".

"Said" is so disgustingly boring and pathetic to the mind that it simply gloses over it, and the flow continues. A long, flowy word interupts what you are writing. This destroys your story.

Use said at every instance possible. There are, however, some exceptions. Lke this one. Let's say a person just was working when he dropped something on his friend's foot.

"You clumsy oaf! Be more careful!" John said.

"Sorry" Bob said.

"Said" was used badly in this example. Why? Repetition.

A favorite metaphor of mine is their "Train of thought". They're riding down a road when they notice a sign showing how far to the next stop. They don't pay much attentiohn. But then they see the same sign 10 seconds later. They wonder why there are so many.

But if there is enough space between the signs, they don't wonder why, they just keep on going. Repeating "Said", or any other word, will turn off the reader.

How do we fix this example? Well, we could try this...

"You clumsy oaf! Be more careful!" John said.

"Sorry" Bob replied.

Words like "asked" and "replied" are good substitutes for "said". We could also try...

"You clumsy oaf! Be more careful!" John said, glaring at his co-worker. Bob had dropped a brick from his higher position directly onto John's foot.

"Sorry" Bob said.

Because we have stuff between the repeting word, they don't notice. You can put pretty much anything in that space. One last possibility...

"You clumsy oaf! Be more careful!"


If there are no other people there at the time and it is obvious who's speaking, you can go without speech tags. I typically begin leving them out of the conversation after two lines of dialouge in a 1 on 1 chat. If there are more people, you should be sure the reader realizes who is speaking.

Now, there's one other thing: "said" should not be used on highly emotive lines. If somebody is screaming at the top of their lungs, they aren't saying the words, they're yelling them. If somebody is dying, they're not saying words, they're uttering them.

"Said" can break your story if used improperly. But when used as it should, all is well.

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Wed Sep 30, 2009 6:13 am
Master_Yoda says...

Interesting, Thunder, I often find said to be the most effective of dialogue tags as readers just skim over it. When you want readers to focus on the dialogue itself, specifically in those emotive scenes that you highlighted above, and not what comes between it, "said" is probably your best choice. :)

Have a great one!

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But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
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