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Cutting back on 'said'

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Tue May 06, 2008 4:20 am
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mikedb1492 says...

For the time I've been here at YWS, I've noticed time and time again that people have trouble with reducing the redundancy of the word 'said'. Whether they say he said, she said, or anything else. I know people have had numerous solutions where you use different words like asked, replied, whispered, etc. I've decided to post a few other ways to do so.

Way 1) I first learned about this when studying Christopher Paolini's writing style in his book Eragon. When you're writing a paragraph that describes something a character is doing, you don't always need to have 'said' in it. For example.

Excerpts from Eragon:
Eragon glared at him. "I can't wait until tomorrow, Sloan.

Notice how there's no trace of the word 'said' or any of its forms? This is because the actions of the character indicate who's speaking. It also shows how his tone will be like.

Eragon stuffed the meat into his pack. "Well, now I have one more reason to hurry home.

Notice this again? The actions of Eragon make it obvious that he's the one speaking and how he says it.

For more examples, you can look for them yourself in Eragon.

Way 2) This way is a bit more common, and most of you have probably seen it. When two people are talking you don't always need to have 'said' since only one other person can possibly answer. Just start a new paragraph to show that someone new is talking. For example.

"What's your favorite color?" John asked.

However, this mainly only works when there's only 2 people, but variations of this can be used for multiple people.

Another example is in the book by MT Anderson, Octavian Nothing. There's an entire page or so with nothing but a fiery dialog between 2 people. No descriptions or anything, and I think it worked quite well. I don't own the book, so I can't give you an excerpt, but I'll make one up.
John hit the wall. "Why won't you come back with me?"
"Because we won't be free."
"Yes, but you'd be my wife and.."
"That's not good enough."
"Not good enough?"

and so on and so forth. You get it, right?

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