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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Said bookisms

   
Author Topic: Said bookisms
benskia
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Hello.

Up until now, I've always tried to follow the advice that says - just use said, it's an invisible phrase & wont get in the way of the reading.

But, I've had a few instances in my latest WIP, where "she said" just doesn't seem to cut it.

For example, my MC's wife is witnessing her husband being dragged away by armed soldiers. She's cut off from him & cant run to his side.

So I have:
"Stop it! let him go," she said.
Which just doesn't seem strong enough.

But if I write:
"Stop it! let him go," she screamed.
It just seems to portray her actions better in this case.

Is it going to be viewed as bad writing, if I ignore the rules and just go with option 2?
Will I look like an amateur (which I am, but obviously I want to try my hardest to break out of that mould).

thanks.


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TL 601
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Here's the rule they don't tell you: Don't take "the rules" too seriously.

Write it how it needs to be written. "Screamed" sounds like a much better choice.


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Kickle
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I think there are times when words other than "said" are nessary, especially on the rare occasions when an exclamation point is used--such as your example. A large majority of the time "said" or no tag works best.
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Robert Nowall
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Well, let's not get carried away with it. You don't want a page or two of dialog littered with "he asked...he replied...he questioned...he interjected...he commented...he screamed...he whispered...he cried...he sobbed...he gasped...he coughed...he burped...he belched...he roared...he thundered...he lied...he prevaricated...he fibbed...he admitted...he told...he zorched...he quizzled..."

"Said" does the job---and so does writing a complete sentence and putting it before, during, or after the dialog---and when you eventually do use another verb it'll stand out that much better.


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Zodiaxe
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As a reader, I have to say, I do pay attention to how a dialog flows. I get bored with dialog that just reads the same way throughout the entire book. It all becomes too robotic.

“Blah blah blah..., “ says Mike.
“Yadda yadda yadda...,” says Karen.
“Blah blah blah...,” says Mike.
“Yadda yadda yadda....,” says Karen.
“Blah blah blah...,” says Mike.

Eventually, all I see is two static people just talking to each other with no other action taking place. The only way this type of dialog works for me is if the author does a bang up job detailing the scene in which the conversation is taking place. If not, I would much rather read:

“Blah blah blah..., “ says Mike.
“Yadda yadda yadda...,” says Karen.
“Blah blah blah...,” says Mike smiling.
“Yadda yadda yadda....,” whispers Karen seductively.
“Blah blah blah...,” says Mike.

That spices things up a bit, and I like that. I realize that others may not like that. Still, others may contend that no one pays attention to the wording. However, because I read each and every word in detail, my weird self is paying attention so that shoots that argument out of the water.

When writing, I don’t follow the hard rule of using said at the end of a sentence of dialog. Because I use a good bit of dialog to move the story along and, even though I use the verb said, every now and then, I’ll pop in another verb just to break the monotony and give the dialog a little pop.

Peace,
Scott

[This message has been edited by Zodiaxe (edited January 24, 2006).]


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arriki
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Why not just end her line with an exclamation point? Avoid the said and the screamed.
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luapc
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I agree with arriki. One of the things that helps with modern fiction is to let the readers come to their own conclusions on how the character feels. If the dialog portrays the emotions and feelings strongly enough, then the reader doesn't need, or want, to be told by the author what these obvious emotions and feelings are. It becomes repititious. In other words, trust your dialog and the reader to work together. If you find the dialog lacking and not strong enough, then focus on improving the dialog itself rather than adding things like 'she screamed'.


It is also good to remember that too many dialog tags, especially when only two people are in a discussion, only get in the way of the flow for the reader. Dialog tags are not invisible if used too much, even the infamous 'said'. Use dialog tags only for emphasis or pacing, or when you really need to stress something. That way, they have more impact.

[This message has been edited by luapc (edited January 24, 2006).]

[This message has been edited by luapc (edited January 24, 2006).]


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Jeraliey
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It's ok to use words like that once in a while, especially if it's to draw attention to a particular, strong emotion. The suggestion to avoid it is intended to discourage you from straining to find a different word for every occurrence. That just gets annoying.
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Beth
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what arriki said.

Plus, you can use indirect attribution, or skip tags altogether to avoid the repetitive pattern z. mentions above.

"Lock the door behind me." Clarissa hefted her machine gun and opened the door. "The monkeys are out there."

"I know," said Derek. "You don't have to nag."

"I'm not nagging. Why don't you ever listen to me?" Clarissa started to cry.

"Because you never say anything worth listening to."

"Pig!" She slammed the door.


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wbriggs
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...which makes very good dialogue.

I have no shame about using said-bookisms . . . very, very sparingly.


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Survivor
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Use whatever communicates your intention.

In ordinary conversation, where we can assume that two people are speaking normally and each can hear the other, you use "said" because that's what the characters are doing.

But the line you have here, it could be delivered, plausibly, in dozens of different ways. She might scream it at a particular person (presumably the officer in charge, though not necessarily), she could yell it at the whole group, she could deliver it coldly as a demand, she could gasp it while holding her abdomen, whisper it into the dirt, plead...I'm going to resist the temptation to actually enumerate dozens of tags that would give the reader distinct and useful information about what she's actually doing in this scene.

The rule about avoiding "said bookisms" is intended to ensure that you use "said" when that's what you mean. Just as you use the character's name when you refer to the character rather than making up a new identification tag every line.

I don't tend to use "said" much. If something's set off in quotes, then I consider that sufficient to mark it as dialog. But I do use "said" when I need to specify that a character said something.


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Robert Nowall
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Adding an adjective after "said" is another issue. It might pad out the word length, but is it necessary? "He held his best girl in his arms, and tilted his head forward to whisper in her ear. 'I have V. D.,' he said infectiously."

Surely the tone of voice and emotional content would be better indicated by the dialog itself.


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pantros
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There are no absolute rules about writing. The most important thing is being understood. Do that however is necessary.
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franc li
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I did a chunk of dialogue without tags one time. Didn't go over so well. I hadn't meant to show it to anyone in that form, but I had to present something for this workshop and my printer wasn't working so I just grabbed a draft and copied some pages from it. The workshop leader, at any rate, liked the conversational tags that allowed something to happen.
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