Young Writers Society

Home » Forums » Resources » Writers Corner

Is Said Dead?

User avatar
155 Reviews

Gender: Female
Points: 703
Reviews: 155
Sun Apr 14, 2019 10:00 pm
View Likes
Horisun says...

I personally thing that said is a great word, and that, as long as you occasionly replace it, or spice it up a bit, that it's the perfect word! My teacher disagrees, and made us replace every last word with a big, fancy, word that ultimately means the same thing.

User avatar
30 Reviews

Gender: Male
Points: 3390
Reviews: 30
Sun Apr 14, 2019 10:16 pm
View Likes
jster02 says...

Many would argue that replacing the word "said" with anything else is distracting to the reader. People tend not to notice when you say "he said" or "she asked." They just skip right over it, which is good because it preserves the flow of the conversation instead of stopping it to tell us exactly how the speaker said what they said. So I would say said most certainly isn't dead. (Although I'm sure some would disagree. Everyone has their own style, and that's just fine).
Whales are the very best,
I think they hate the snow,
You really should like whales,
'Cause I said so.

User avatar
258 Reviews

Gender: None specified
Points: 22755
Reviews: 258
Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:16 am
View Likes
fraey says...

I don't think that using "said" as a dialogue tag is dead. Plenty of authors really try to push having unique and different ways of referring to a character speaking, but most of the time, that can confuse the reader more than "wowing" them with an extended vocabulary. A good way to go would be to try to add in what the character may be doing with their actual dialogue, so that there's some variety in conversations.

More so:

Spoiler! :
He scratched his head, catching his fingers on knots. "I don't know, really," he admitted.

"Somehow, I don't believe that." She frowned, cracking her knuckles.

"That's all I've got for you." He shrugged, standing up to walk towards her perch on the couch.

rather than

Spoiler! :
"I don't know really," he admitted.

"Somehow, I don't believe that," she said.

"That's all I've got for you," he replied.

In that sense, it doesn't matter what words you use in the second example as anything is going to feel repetitive.

Hope this makes sense! Interesting topic.
also concord/killeham/perks.
farewell, once, amidst a wave.

User avatar
97 Reviews

Gender: Male
Points: 921
Reviews: 97
Mon Apr 15, 2019 2:01 am
View Likes
AmadeusW says...

I always use "said". It is definitely not dead. Of course you want to switch it up a bit, but if there really isn't much else to use but "said", then by all means use it. As I said a couple sentences ago, I use said all the time.
"The dead look so terribly dead when they're dead." - Larry Darrell, The Razor's Edge

User avatar
1195 Reviews


Gender: Female
Points: 28011
Reviews: 1195
Mon Apr 15, 2019 4:36 pm
View Likes
niteowl says...

1) If your teacher is telling you to do it, just do it, for the sake of the assignment if nothing else. Their intent may be to expand your vocabulary and be familiar with alternative words and how they might affect your dialogue. I might disagree with replacing every "said", but again, I'm not your teacher.

2) I have no problem with using "said" in most cases, as more "fancy" words can be more distracting than helpful. I also agree with @fraey that adding some description/action within the dialogue can be more interesting than just using different tag words.
"You do ill if you praise, but worse if you censure, what you do not understand." Leonardo Da Vinci


User avatar
479 Reviews

Gender: Female
Points: 4157
Reviews: 479
Mon Apr 15, 2019 6:40 pm
View Likes
Holysocks says...

This is something that I am incredibly passionate about.

I agree with everyone that has said the fancier words are more confusing, and stall the reader.

In writing, we want people to keep reading. We want people to have an easy time picking up our stories and reading them to the end. In a novel, 'said' must be in there about a gazillion times- which, some people look at as an issue, because it is true that word variation is a good thing to keep in mind while writing. However, as some people have mentioned, while 'said' is kind of a boring word, it's okay if it is because the reader just glides right over it. When I'm reading dialogue, I really could care less what the dialogue tag is- it's the dialogue itself that is the most important thing at that point. And usually the reader picks up on how the character is talking through the scenario and what's happening, and the nature of the conversation.

When you use fancier words, it can stall the reader, and make the reading experience more choppy. And sometimes writers, in a search for more and more unique words, come up with more and more ridiculous and extra stall-y words! Like: 'She flabbergasted' :P Actually, I like that. I think I'm going to replace all my 'saids' with 'flabbergasted'. Just kidding XP

As niteowl flabbergasted though (see what I did there? ;D ) make sure you follow what your teacher says to do for class. BUT if she/he/they is the type of person you can talk to, then I think it would be an idea to have a nice conversation with them about this. And perhaps note that there's plenty of published, well known authors that say to use 'said' instead of using a different fancy word for each piece of dialogue. If I remember correctly, Stephen King was one of those writers, and he was also an English teacher himself. c:

Also I want to express something that kinda makes me sad when it comes to teachers. This whole 'said' topic is something that many people are divided on. So many people love, love, love to use anything but 'said' for their dialogue tags, and yet so many people on the other side are just as adamant that 'said' is the foundation that holds our dialogue together! And it saddens me that your teacher didn't give you guys the opportunity to decide which side of the great divide you're on.

Bonus note: Plus, if you're busy running to the thesaurus every time you want to write some dialogue, no one's going to get much writing done! :shock:
I hope it's a good joke because otherwise I'll have got it for nothing...

WARNING: Do not take grammar advice from me... EVER.

Once you have read a book you care about, some part of it is always with you.
— Louis L'Amour