I love Pinterest for visual inspiration, but I saw something on there the other day that made me angry. I was searching through the “writing” tag, and saw a graphic with alternative to “said.” This list included words like “screamed,” “called,” “shouted,” “whispered,” and several others.
At the top of the graphic were the words, “SAID IS DEAD.”
And I got frustrated.
I don’t know what other people have told you, but to me, there is nothing more distracting when I’m reading a piece than seeing a dialogue tag other than “said.” It calls too much attention to itself. As a writer, you want your dialogue to stand out more than your attributive tags. You want the reader to skip right over them.
That’s why “said” is perfect.
It waits in the wings, sneaks onstage wearing all black, and does some heavy lifting without intruding. It’s the stage hand of the written word. Why in the world would you want to kill that?
As Stephen King writes, “All I ask is that you do as well as you can, and remember that, while to write adverbs is human, to write he said or she said is divine.”
Don’t even get me started on adverbs.
How do you feel about using tags other than said?