Anybody else have trouble with repetition of speech verbs in their writing? I'm constantly annoyed by "Howdy there," Said Bob and "Nice to see you too," Said Rob etc, but if I start using other verbs like 'mused' and 'replied' and 'debated', it begins to sound a tad cliched.
I've tried various adverbs after 'said', but the composition again sounds repetitive, not to mention unimaginative and stilted. I know the main thing is the conversation itself (and that often, a 'said' isn't needed at all), but this is annoying me to hell!
December 24th, 2003, 04:52 AM
In primary school I was taught to avoid said at all costs. But it can seem pretentious if you do this, scrabbling through a variety of words. Someone on the NaNo boards posted saying that 'said' shouldn't be avoided as it's one of the English language's most transparent words. If it appears regularly you don't seem to notice it - the other day I paused after reading a page of some sci-fi story, looked back and was surprised how many times the author had used 'said'.
I am guilty of the said-adverb combo and am trying to cure myself of it.
I also use a lot of those words you say are cliched. Now I feel all worried. But at least it's better than more said-adverbs.
Sometimes in a conversation (particularly between three people) you need to keep track of who said what but I find this can be done by mentioning gestures, small actions and so on rather than sticking 'said Leel, 'said Domaitre' or 'said Zask' after every bit of chatter.
December 24th, 2003, 05:13 AM
One way to aovoid it is to break up the dialog a little.
"How are you doing?" Rob extended his hand in greeting.
"Fine thanks." Felicity took hold of his hand and shook it warmly.
"So what have you been up to?"
"Not a lot you?" She looked at him as she spoke.
"Oh this and that, you know how it is."
Felicity nodded and smiled, "Yup that I do."
December 24th, 2003, 10:55 PM
i've been told over and over again to not try to avoid "said". as wordsarepoison said before, the word is transparent to the reader. it's really much more annoying reading a bunch of different words that mean "said" and don't really add anything at all to the writing.
December 25th, 2003, 11:42 PM
Personally, if they are not really saying something, but whispering, exclaiming, yelling then I'll use that word. Also, if they are saying something, then said is fine, but how did they say it?
"Hello," John said with a tone of sorrow in his voice.
After a pause, Jerry responded with concern, "You sound distressed."
"I am," John said sorrowfully.
Granted this is a simple example, but I think you'll get the point. There's no reason to avoid the word as it was stated, most readers will bypass this word without thought but if the word is missing, it'll be more obvious to the reader. When using said, remember your adjectives if the wording needs more flavor.
December 26th, 2003, 01:05 PM
I dont like using said three times in a row in say, the space of a paragraph or two. Sometimes I will use answered, or replied, responded or whatever seems appropriate. I used to search a thesaurus for every possible variation but it probably is better to stick to a bare few. Using too many variations on a word can become distracting.
Where I have a problem is when someone writes: "Hey--did John go to the store?" Bill said.
Shouldnt it be Bill asked? It may be redundant--since the "?" signifies the question, but still--I dont like editorial opinion that suggests you use said instead of asked.
December 26th, 2003, 01:35 PM
Several critiques of my own writing have focused on this issue. Of course, I have had people make comments on both ends of the spectrum - too many *saids* vs too little.
I think what is important is that the piece that you are writing has the proper emphasis in the proper place. In a conversation, you want the reader to understand who is speaking first and foremost. Then you need to make sure that you are not shifting the focus from the dialogue to how something is being said when it is not required. Otherwise, I do not believe there are any hard and fast rules.
December 26th, 2003, 03:11 PM
I think there is nothing wrong with using 'said' but there should be a limit.
For example, if you have just two characters talking, once you have established who they are, leave out the 'said' tag and just have them talk.
"Good to see you again, Bill," Tom said.
"It's been a while."
"What have you been doing with yourself?"
"I've been married six years. Got two kids."
"Congratulations, Bill. " etc. etc.
But I do not like it when the author tries to substitute other verbs for 'said' He remarked, interjeted, ejaculated (I love that one), hissed, snorted, laughed (???), retorted... There must be a few others I can't think of right now.
Use 'said' but use it wisely.
December 26th, 2003, 03:48 PM
There's nothing wrong with 'said'. In fact, there are a lot of authors who use nothing else and sell tons of books. The point is to vary your usage, not just put "Bob said" at the end of every line of dialog.