October 23, 2019, 01:10:34 AM

Author Topic: "She said"  (Read 724 times)

Offline ScarletBea

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"She said"
« on: September 22, 2019, 09:23:28 AM »
I was reading and suddenly noticed something: everything is "she said/he said".
There's no exclaimed, inquired, proposed, complained, ... all the other verbs for someone talking that 'people' say you should use to avoid repetition.
Yet, it just makes me focus on what the characters are actually saying. I never actually noticed this before, in the past 4 books. And do other authors use it as well? It's not something I've actively noticed (and not sure why it suddenly clicked).
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Offline S. K. Inkslinger

Re: "She said"
« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2019, 09:55:51 AM »
I was reading and suddenly noticed something: everything is "she said/he said".
There's no exclaimed, inquired, proposed, complained, ... all the other verbs for someone talking that 'people' say you should use to avoid repetition.
Yet, it just makes me focus on what the characters are actually saying. I never actually noticed this before, in the past 4 books. And do other authors use it as well? It's not something I've actively noticed (and not sure why it suddenly clicked).

I had an exact opposite problem of this, hahah. One of my beta readers said that I avoided using the words, "he/she said" too much and should just switched back to using it instead of the "he/she exclaimed, complained" etc.

Offline cupiscent

Re: "She said"
« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2019, 11:10:28 AM »
I personally like avoiding attributive tags in speech altogether, but that said, when I'm reading aloud to the Small it's really handy to have the "she said"s in there so that it's obvious what's speech and what isn't.

"She said" is the sort of thing that usually just blends into the background, but sometimes it does leap out. Either because you've just suddenly noticed it, or possibly because the author is actually overusing it--not necessarily should be using more "interesting" attributive tags, but just using too many tags altogether. Any time any part of language is overused, it stands out because our brain is pretty finely tuned to rhythm and nuance like that.

I'm personally not a fan of fancy speech tags, unless they offer an interesting juxtaposition or nuance to the speech itself. (e.g. "I'm going to kill you," she crooned, or "I'm the happiest I've ever been," she sobbed.) Or if it's forming part of the overall ambiance/word picture of the scene. (Like, if the characters are speaking on a deserted beach, it might be nice to have them whisper or hiss, but personally I'd probably avoid tags and go for phrases like, "Her words washed over me and ebbed away again.")

Offline NedMarcus

Re: "She said"
« Reply #3 on: September 22, 2019, 12:09:41 PM »
There's a school of thought that says you should only use 'he/she said.' I think that's too much, but 'he/she said' is good at blending into the background. He groaned/she muttered etc can sometimes call too much attention to themselves.

Offline Alex Hormann

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Re: "She said"
« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2019, 05:09:56 PM »
I probably use 'said' about 50-70% of the time. 'Remarked', 'called' and 'asked' crop up a fair bit in my writing too. I'm of the opinion that we have words that convey how something is spoken, so why would you not use them?

As a reader, I'm not sure I notice them all that much. So long as I can tell who is talking, I don't really mind how they do it.
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Offline Yora

Re: "She said"
« Reply #5 on: September 22, 2019, 05:41:16 PM »
Writers should use the word that seems fitting in its place, based on what the writers style is.

Don't use "remarked" or "muttered" if the character does not remark or mutter. If they simply say thing, then use "said". More important than not repeating a word is to not to have too repeating sentence structure.

Offline Lu Kudzoza

Re: "She said"
« Reply #6 on: September 22, 2019, 07:55:25 PM »
I think it should always be "he argued."

Prove me wrong.

Offline Magnus Hedén

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Re: "She said"
« Reply #7 on: September 22, 2019, 09:22:50 PM »
My rules are, roughly:

1. Use no attributive tag if it's apparent who's speaking.
2. Use "she/he/it/they/xe said" tag.
3. Use action tags when appropriate and to add variation. Example:
Quote
Sheila walked up to him and grabbed his collar. "Are you kidding me?"
4. Only ever use any other word than 'said' if absolutely required for the scene to make sense.

Most of the time, I think the dialogue should speak for itself. The fact that someone "proposed", "complained" or "accused", et cetera, should be obvious from the wording, so those are entirely superfluous unless the dialogue is poorly written. "x said" disappears because we see it so often. That being said, don't put it in there if you don't have to.
« Last Edit: September 23, 2019, 07:07:03 AM by Magnus Hedén »
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Offline Neveesandeh

Re: "She said"
« Reply #8 on: September 22, 2019, 10:05:01 PM »
When I was in primary school the rule of never using 'said' on account of it being a boring word, was beaten into us. When I first started writing I would try to avoid using 'said' as a speech tag because of that.

When I was a bit older, a read a blog by an editor who argued that a writer should do the opposite, always use 'said' precisely because it blends into the background and you don't notice it. A speech tag shouldn't be integral to the prose, because it's jarring.

So now I pretty much always use 'said'.

Offline Lanko

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Re: "She said"
« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2019, 12:46:02 AM »
Writers are told constantly to avoid using stuff like "he groaned, she replied" and etc as dialogue tags.

Mostly it's because they say "he said/she said" is "invisible" to the eye and non-intrusive.

I wonder if now this rule should just slightly be changed or ignored simply because by being so repetitive, it is, ironically, as Bea pointed, not invisible anymore thanks to the overuse.

Remember this "he said/she said" "rule" came for the necessity of the times, when writers spammed stuff like "he yelled loudly (yea...), "she replied angrily", and so on.

I myself also greatly likes what Magnus said, to use action (probably description/thoughts too) and not use any dialog tag at all, simply to add some variation.
In his example, if someone grabs you by the collar and says in your face "Are you kidding me?" anyone knows what's happening, the tone, etc.
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Offline Lady Ty

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Re: "She said"
« Reply #10 on: September 23, 2019, 02:09:15 AM »
Writers are told constantly to avoid using stuff like "he groaned, she replied" and etc as dialogue tags.

Mostly it's because they say "he said/she said" is "invisible" to the eye and non-intrusive.

....
I myself also greatly likes what Magnus said, to use action (probably description/thoughts too) and not use any dialog tag at all, simply to add some variation.
In his example, if someone grabs you by the collar and says in your face "Are you kidding me?" anyone knows what's happening, the tone, etc.

This is a very interesting conversation for me personally, having been brought up on 19th/20thC books loaded down with adjectives and adverbs. While mourning the loss of vocabulary, I recognise that such use can be seen as top-heavy and stilted nowadays. I do enjoy short stories presented as a duologue with no tags at all, perhaps a minimal start and end sentence to identify the two characters.

I always found "he said/she said" invisible until I started to rely heavily on audible, then with some books it jumps out and hits my ears time and time again. It occurs noticeably with one SF author I enjoy and annoyed me in long conversations, but I don't remember which writer.

Agree with Magnus and Lanko that you can write dialogue well most of the time without those tags, as in that example, and convey the emotion attached without additional verbs. Also, after a few chapters, if an author has built their characters well enough, a reader can often tell who is speaking simply by their comments and their use of language. For example, to those who like Riyria, bet you would always know whether it was Royce or Hadrian. 

PS Did appreciate and enjoy @cupiscent's two examples  ;D ;D
Quote
I'm personally not a fan of fancy speech tags, unless they offer an interesting juxtaposition or nuance to the speech itself. (e.g. "I'm going to kill you," she crooned, or "I'm the happiest I've ever been," she sobbed.)
« Last Edit: September 23, 2019, 02:19:02 AM by Lady Ty »
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Offline Peat

Re: "She said"
« Reply #11 on: September 23, 2019, 08:31:34 AM »
I personally like avoiding attributive tags in speech altogether, but that said, when I'm reading aloud to the Small it's really handy to have the "she said"s in there so that it's obvious what's speech and what isn't.


I've seen authors say that they put in more attributive tags than they might otherwise do so to make things flow better for audio books.


Anyhoo, I think everyone else covered it. I particularly agree on avoiding attributive tags when obvious and using actions as a better way to mix it up then using all the "yelled" "hissed" etc.etc.
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Offline Lanko

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Re: "She said"
« Reply #12 on: September 24, 2019, 12:07:49 AM »

I've seen authors say that they put in more attributive tags than they might otherwise do so to make things flow better for audio books.

Anyhoo, I think everyone else covered it. I particularly agree on avoiding attributive tags when obvious and using actions as a better way to mix it up then using all the "yelled" "hissed" etc.etc.

Yeah, I'm now taking this into consideration, even if I never release an audiobook haha. Never thought of that before.

Strangely, I don't mind "hissed" that much. "She hissed" is very different from "she said", for example. Also, just writing "she hissed" may spare a lot of text to build the dialogue/scene to have the same meaning without a dialogue tag.
In this case, just pointing out "she hissed" to make the meaning clear can actually make the paragraph/scene/etc shorter, and used sparingly, a tag will definitely catch the reader's eye, and you can use to better emphasize a point being made, for example.

And sometimes, if this character hisses a lot, it probably adds something to their characteristics, manneirisms and etc. So it can be used in your favor.

The beauty (and trick) of it is figuring out when and how to break the "rule", hopefully in our favor. Easier said than done, of course  ::)
 
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Offline Bender

Re: "She said"
« Reply #13 on: September 24, 2019, 02:38:36 AM »
I thought this was a  "That's what she said" joke thread.  ;D

As to OP, I find he said, she said to be lazy and mundane. Prefer something which conveys emotional content whispered, growled, snapped etc etc. Gives insight into speakers emotional situation additionally.

He said she said is just redundant and you may as well ignore that and let it be implied.
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Offline S. K. Inkslinger

Re: "She said"
« Reply #14 on: September 24, 2019, 04:39:47 AM »
I thought this was a  "That's what she said" joke thread.  ;D

As to OP, I find he said, she said to be lazy and mundane. Prefer something which conveys emotional content whispered, growled, snapped etc etc. Gives insight into speakers emotional situation additionally.

He said she said is just redundant and you may as well ignore that and let it be implied.

Agree with this. It also depends on how the character would do it. I wouldn't prefer a character who'd growled and threatened and swore vehemently to be limited to he/she said tags.