Thursday, May 19, 2016

Dialogue Tags- How to Eliminate the Word "Said"

     It can be a struggle to avoid repetition of words- Especially, the word said. Dialogue is good. You want to incorporate a lot of it within your story. It helps develop characters and add realism to your story. However, when you use dialogue, you are inviting the risk of overused words. How do you prevent this from happening?

Actions Before Dialogue

     When you have a new character begin to speak, simply add an action directly before they talk in order to identify the speaker. For example:
     Instead of- "We should go," Mary said.
     Try- Mary turned her gaze towards the smoke. "We should go."

     By identifying the speaker beforehand, it becomes unnecessary to add a dialogue tag after the spoken words. This strategy will create better sentence fluency and prevent overusing the word said. I've found this technique incredibly helpful.
     Now, this doesn't mean you need to eliminate the use of said altogether. When used sparingly, this word accomplishes its purpose without distracting the reader from the story. In my opinion, there are few words besides said that you should use as dialogue tags. Leading to my next tip...

Don't Use Words Such as Laughed or Spat

     Often times these words can come across as cheesy. And think about what you're writing. Take the following sentence for example. "You have cheese in your hair," Jane laughed. Is that actually feasible? Can someone laugh words? No. You speak words. Not laugh or spit them. Other words such as acknowledged, commented, and exclaimed are acceptable, but the dialogue and the character's actions should be enough to convey the emotion behind it. If you apply those tips to the previous sentence, you end up with something like this. "'You have cheese in your hair,' said Jane, holding a hand to her mouth as her cheeks turned red and laughter escaped her lips." This illustrates the scene much better than the first sentence while retaining the use of said. See? Said isn't bad, merely easy to overuse. However, if you want to eliminate said altogether, you could write, "Jane held a hand to her mouth as her cheeks turned red and laughter escaped her lips. 'You have cheese in your hair.'" By incorporating the action before the dialogue, you eliminate said.


1 comment:

  1. I love this one because there are so many people who do things like this and it makes the story almost annoying. Your tips and tricks are helpful!