9 thoughts on “476 Ways to Avoid Saying “Said””

  1. I was repeatedly taught that using “said” was, well, okay. Readers take no notice.
    After scanning the list of alternatives to said, I’ll stick with said.


  2. A dialogue tag consists of a character name, noun or pronoun followed by a verb that indicates a form of utterance. The best of those is “said.”

    Or you can go with any of those above (or choose from many more) and draw the reader’s attention away from the dialogue in a self-defeating kind of lunacy. One manusript I copyedited years ago contained this line: “‘What are you doing with that knife?’ she ejaculated.”

  3. I agree with the use “said” principle, but there are moments in group conversation where something else is useful to indicate a change in tone without breaking up the back-and-forth with unnecessary non-verbal description.

    Example: Watching someone react badly to someone else’s clumsy unintended reminder of tragedy by taking it the wrong way, an admonishment of:
    “Tom,” she murmured.
    is more effective than a long description of dismay. It conveys personality, restraint, disapproval, sympathy — all in a single word.

    And just as the “!” is scorned as lazy, it is much better to have someone say “Stop!” [no tag] than just about anything else. It’s urgent and justified, and shorter than any tag (even “said”) as it should be in context.

    • Agreed. But you might say murmured once or twice. And in a context that makes sense. This list suggests said is bad and better replaced than used. An alternative here and there is fine, especially where it belongs. Replacing because you think its dull is suicide. It makes you look like an amateur. Becomes a distraction. Just Stop!
      : >

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