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8 Comments

  1. breeanaputtroff
    May 16, 2013 @ 10:29 am

    I’ll put my two cents in. 🙂

    In the first five chapters of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: “says” (it’s in southern dialect) or said is used more times that I cared to count. Nothing else is used. At all.

    We all know there are people we need to not listen to about writing. Authors have to learn to ignore a certain number of voices.

    Every author has to bring his or her own voice to their writing, and some voices have more varied speech tags and adjectives and adverbs. If a writer is confident in their own voice, they have to ignore the dissenting ones.

    Some people are Charles Dickens. Some are Emily Bronte.

    However, on the subject of lots and lots of different speech tags and adverbs: First of all, I very rarely EVER have seen even the “only use said” people say to never use replied or asked or some of the “softer” ones, Sometimes you are asking or replying, and “said” would sound weird (IF you need any speech tag at all).

    Most of the examples you posted above were quite free of adverbs and “ejaculated” (really, imagine using that one in 2013).

    If a particular writer is plagued by reviewers and beta readers who comment on the use of things other than said, though … I personally think it’s worth looking into. Because if a reader is busily admiring (or panning) your varied use of speech tags, and oohing (or vomiting) over the variety of adverbs you know — what they’re not doing is spending their time lost in your story.

    The point of learning to minimize your speech tags has nothing to do with a formula, it has to do with making them DISAPPEAR, so the reader never notices them at all.

    Some people are such gifted storytellers that they can make large numbers of people disappear into stories no matter what words they use. Most of us aren’t quite there.

    As far as teachers and the “said is dead” lessons … God knows I love teachers — but most of them aren’t writers. Poor teachers gotta have something to GRADE, and highlighting every use of “said” in a student’s story is … it’s at least something to go on that isn’t subjective. Really, I love them, but nothing has ever made brain fluid leak out of my ears the way that arguing about how to grade writing in a group of teachers did.

    Reply

    • Kristy K. James
      May 16, 2013 @ 12:52 pm

      Oh I’m not advocating using said…or any other alternative word…excessively. I was merely blowing off some steam…and using classics to point out that not everyone who considers themselves an expert on writing needs to be listened to. It was that ‘tone’ that offended me. As in if you use anything else, you’re a lousy writer (not in those exact words, but that’s basically what they were saying).

      Bronte used words that made me giggle…and no way would they ever make their way into my stories…although I seriously love ‘hallooed responsively.’

      Anyway, I’ve not had any complaints over my use of said…or any of its relatives…so I’m not worried about it. I just really hate seeing articles like that.

      Reply

  2. Emma
    May 16, 2013 @ 12:12 pm

    I try to keep it to “said” and “asked” as much as possible.
    I think if there’s too much – he muttered, she exclaimed, they cried, he hissed and so forth, it takes the reader out of the action.

    My first book has so many adverbs that I cringe now when I read it. Oh well, you live, you learn.

    Reply

    • Kristy K. James
      May 16, 2013 @ 12:59 pm

      I agree. Too much of anything can be very distracting. For me, it’s repetitive words. I read a novelette by an indie a couple of years ago where the author used ‘coffee’ so many times in space of two pages I wanted to scream. The same can be said of said/alternatives. But for all of the ‘experts’ acting like writers are committing some sort of literary crime by using muttered, exclaimed, etc… it just annoys me.

      Like I told Breeana below, I try to limit my use of those words anyway. However, if I feel like muttered will get my point across better, I’ll use it. 🙂

      The thing that makes me cringe most when I look at my earlier work is my excessive…EXCESSIVE use of exclamation points. I read them now and all I can think is…WHY??? 🙂

      Reply

      • Emma
        May 16, 2013 @ 1:45 pm

        Ha ha, I’m glad I’m not the only one who looks back on earlier work and feels a tad embarrassed.
        But we were only starting out. I’m still learning new writing skills every day.

        Reply

        • Kristy K. James
          May 19, 2013 @ 7:33 pm

          Oh I’m sure that 99% of us wouldn’t want anyone else to see our earliest works. If mine still existed, I wouldn’t mind reading them again though, but water damage meant a lot of it was thrown away. I really need to find the box with the other stuff though. Sometimes it’s fun to spend a day reading and seeing how far I’ve come…because I, too, learn new things about writing every day.:)

          Reply

  3. jennybeansblog
    May 16, 2013 @ 2:08 pm

    agreed, sympathized, concurred

    Reply

    • Kristy K. James
      May 19, 2013 @ 7:31 pm

      Thank you very much. 🙂

      Reply

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