Said, Mumbled, Sneered… Which is it?

Wordle - Words other than 'said'.mht 

He/She said, requested, snorted, yelled, stammered, shrieked, admitted, called, shouted, cried… Well you get the picture I could go on and on. I have read books which had very little “saids” in it and I have read books that were plagued with saids, sneereds and sceams etc. I have also read books which had so little “saids” I had no clue which character said what, those are the ones I tend to put down.  When I pick up a book I want to sit, read and know if my heroine or hero is speaking and not guess. Until I started writing I had never noticed the “saids” in the novels I read, it wasn’t until I began to edit my own stuff that I realized how often I used the “saids“.  I get why we put it in there, but is it necessary to always indicate who is speaking? I think not, if we as writers are being clear and the dialogue indicates that the conversation is between two people maybe identify one of the speakers and then let dialogue take it course.  As long as it’s not too long then I don’t think “said” needs to be there.  Now if you have more than one character speaking said can be used often to identify the speaker. Now how about those screams and stammers, are those necessary? I like to think I don’t use them often, but I will get back to you on that when I finish revising and editing. How about words like stormed, how does someone storm because honestly I can’t do that, I have stammered, never stormed.

How many “saids” are in your WIP? Do you notice them when you read novels? Do you know how to STORM?

 

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4 thoughts on “Said, Mumbled, Sneered… Which is it?

  1. I am much more likely to notice when someone uses something other than “said,” or when they continually use the verb when it’s very clear who is speaking when. I agree with you, though, that there can be too little. I hate having to go back through dialogue and trace back who started the interchange so I know who is saying what.

    I don’t know how many times I use it in my manuscript, but I definitely attempt to be economical and only use alternatives when they are absolutely called for.

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    • I’m like you, I tend to notice more when someone uses something other than said. I currently editing my WIP and let me tell you, There’s a lot of “saids” in and a few “sneers”. But the being said ( no pun intended) I try to avoid too many dialogue tags.

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      • I definitely appreciate your point that if the writing is well done, dialogue tags can be minimal. I hadn’t paid it much mind until I started revising my current manuscript, but there are so many other ways to indicate who is speaking. I like to add actions, instead. So there may be a line of dialogue, and instead of following it with “he said” it could be a description of what he is doing as he’s speaking.

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