Have you been told to lay Said to sleep in your writing?
I was told that while in high school and many creative writing books will offer the same advice: Get rid of Said!
I believe this goes back to showing verses telling.
But I have to ask. Is it okay to put Said to bed? Who voted Said off the island in favor of all the exotic choices and how can we bring Said back into conversations again?
If you read a lot, you will find that authors will vary how their characters’ speak from time to time. Here are some ways to liven up your passages with Said without completely getting rid of him, er, her whatever.
Get Said to Mingle
Example #1: “You are alone,” he whispered. “We’ve never been alone before.”
“I know,” she said. “This is- nice.”
Do you see what happened here? We still used Said but we did not double it up. One person whispered while the other said.
Example #2 “Get back here!” My father cried. “You can’t leave yet!”
“Leave her be,” my mom said hoarse. “She is nineteen years old. The justice system will take her.”
In this example, said is not left alone. Instead Said is paired up with another adjective- hoarse. So we get the feeling that the narrator’s mom is cracked sounding or tired or perhaps weary.
Leave Said Alone For A Bit
Example #1 The cool water washed down her throat, blessing it with moisture. It had been days. Patrick reclined in his chair as he watched Sapphire sip her drink.
“You sure was thirsty,” he murmured.
Sapphire rolled her eyes. “Got anymore?”
Patrick liked her fire. “Yeah. In the kitchen, the bottom shelf of the fridge,” he instructed.
See here? I never used said, but I included some exposition in the process.
Back to Said’s Sob Story. Why are we told to leave it alone?
Here are my possible guesses based on my own writing experience and what I was taught:
- Redundancy. Using said over and over again begins to sound painful.
- Using said makes you sound elementary. Don’t you have anymore colorful terms to use?
- Show versus tell. Is like using the word said versus yawn or uttered or wondered.
Using other words to describe how someone say something, will not make your writing any better. Trust me. You will commit the same sin as point number one suggests. Redundancy. Or you will be viewed as trying to hard.
The rule is balance. Balance Said out. Make Said comfortable but don’t use it too much and feel free to let go of it for a little while but not long.
The handy chart is still useful for those of us who want more creative ways to tell something. Just have fun with them all- and include Said every once in a while.
If you feel this post will mean much other writers as well, please share! 🙂