Using the word "said" as a dialogue tag - Page 2

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Thread: Using the word "said" as a dialogue tag

  1. #11
    Member Irwin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kieran View Post
    "Where have you been?" I asked.
    "Looking for something," Iris said.
    "You've been gone for hours," I said.
    "So?" she said.
    "I've been worried, you know I get scared when you disappear like that." I said.

    I don't think anyone is going to argue that this is painful to read. I almost deleted this response so I didn't have to type it. But does spicing up the tag lines make it better?
    You only need tags when it's not clear who's speaking, so that could be rewritten as:

    "Where have you been?" I asked.
    "Looking for something," Iris said.
    "You've been gone for hours".
    "I've been worried, you know I get scared when you disappear like that."

  2. #12
    Wow. I’m amazed at how many posts this thread’s gotten. Thank you for the insightful opinions, everybody.

  3. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by EthanWarwright View Post
    Hello everyone. So a week or so ago I posted the first chapter of a story I'm writing on the General Fiction page, and one of the key pieces of criticism I got was a lack of dialogue tags. Now one thing I've noticed with a lot of writers that irks me is what I feel to be an overuse of the word "said" as a dialogue tag.

    "Get over here," Joe said.

    "I'm coming," Margaret said.

    But recently I've gone back to some professional novels I consider to be rather well written, and a lot of them make heavy use of "said" as a dialogue tag. So I must ask: should I really spice up the variety of dialogue tags I use in my own works, or am I just being a snob? Or, do none of you have any clue what I'm talking about.
    One book had no dialogue tags, but that was the book that most confused me about who was speaking.

    Some authors do not like "said" and almost always avoid it. I am no fan. For me as reader, "said" implies "said calmly", so it can be deadening for me.

    You can take it as an opportunity. Say how they are speaking when that's interesting or furthers your story Throw in what one responder called an action tag, when that furthers your story. (He shifted in his seat. "Why?) And said is waiting for you.
    Looking for people to beta a chapter or more of my book Modern Punctuation and Grammar: Tools for Better Writing. Go Hidden Content
    As always, useful information you can't find anywhere else.

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  4. #14
    For me, I think the ground outside of quotations is best used to paint the scene around them, or illustrate the characters. I tend to only use said (or one of its substitutes) about once every 1.5 pages. There are better ways to write dialog than to use said over and over.

    "When will we get there?" Tim asked, a tinge of irritation to his voice.
    "We'll get there when we get there!" His baritone echoing through the cab, Galco showed a grimace.
    "So does that mean we have time to clean weapons?" Raising his bushy eyebrows, the soldier showed no fear of their enormous driver.
    Mulling it over, Galco could see the logic behind servicing and preparing the armory. Half turning his thick head, he replied over his left shoulder.
    "Sure, clean the guns, and mebbe make some lunch too. I could go for some Za."

  5. #15
    I've been having this same conundrum. Recently I had an idea for these two, for now, detectives. Their names are Cliff and Craig, and I've been doing a few dialogue tests with them. I find that it's kind of needed to have 'said' there, because the two will often speak one after another, but sometimes out of sequence. Their personalities are also similar, so it'd be easy to confuse the lines (I think, anyway) without the aforementioned tag.
    However, it's overwhelmingly obvious just how repetitive this is, but I really can't think of an alternative! I think it's just a necessary evil...

  6. #16
    Yep, ya gotta do what ya gotta do. Another thing that might help besides what's already been mentioned is giving them different speech patterns, so they can be distinguished from each other in that way too sometimes. Maybe one speaks in more proper English, with more than an average number of big words and the other is less wordy, with more basic speech and tosses in a few cuss words, for example.

    A little off-topic but I'd also make their names begin with different letters. Having names that are too similar can confuse readers unnecessarily. Good luck.

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