December 10, 2019, 02:13:24 AM

Author Topic: "She said"  (Read 1247 times)

Offline bdcharles

Re: "She said"
« Reply #15 on: September 26, 2019, 11:21:40 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).

Some writers swear by only using "said" (or at a stretch, "asked") to help render the dialogue tags invisible. Personally I like a bit more variety though (not too much, mind, no '"Zounds!" expustulated Bob' if I can help it)
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Offline cupiscent

Re: "She said"
« Reply #16 on: September 26, 2019, 12:30:50 PM »
I was thinking about this discussion today as I worked, and thinking that really, it comes down to the point of the tag. The specific example I had was where I'd originally written: he said, like it was something delightful and I changed it to: he praised.

What I wanted to do with the tag was give some nuance as to the way in which the words were said. That could be achieved more punchily with a strong verb, rather than a qualified weak verb. Sometimes that isn't going to be the case. Sometimes, what you want is to place the emphasis on the qualifiers, especially if you're going to highlight confusion or offer many facets. (Which is something I often do; something like: he said like praise, like encouragement, like she was a performing fucking dog.)

On the other hand, you might just want to avoid confusion as to who is speaking: John said, or he said, in a scene between a man and a woman. In which case, it might well be the case that you can provide that clarification while also giving other context by having associated actions or description, not bland tags.

On the OTHER other hand, sometimes what you want is to pause in the rhythm of the dialogue to emphasise one part or another of that dialogue. "That depends," he said, "on what you want to achieve." I love that sort of thing, I love rhythm in prose. But in that case, you probably don't want to draw any attention to the tag text. It's not important, it's just there for rhythm. It's basically words as punctuation, and if you put anything more complicated in there, it breaks rhythm too much.

Probably none of this is really that different from everything else that has been said in this thread, I just thought I would share my considerations since I'd had 'em. :D

Offline bdcharles

Re: "She said"
« Reply #17 on: September 26, 2019, 03:02:14 PM »
I was thinking about this discussion today as I worked, and thinking that really, it comes down to the point of the tag. The specific example I had was where I'd originally written: he said, like it was something delightful and I changed it to: he praised.

What I wanted to do with the tag was give some nuance as to the way in which the words were said. That could be achieved more punchily with a strong verb, rather than a qualified weak verb. Sometimes that isn't going to be the case. Sometimes, what you want is to place the emphasis on the qualifiers, especially if you're going to highlight confusion or offer many facets. (Which is something I often do; something like: he said like praise, like encouragement, like she was a performing fucking dog.)

On the other hand, you might just want to avoid confusion as to who is speaking: John said, or he said, in a scene between a man and a woman. In which case, it might well be the case that you can provide that clarification while also giving other context by having associated actions or description, not bland tags.

On the OTHER other hand, sometimes what you want is to pause in the rhythm of the dialogue to emphasise one part or another of that dialogue. "That depends," he said, "on what you want to achieve." I love that sort of thing, I love rhythm in prose. But in that case, you probably don't want to draw any attention to the tag text. It's not important, it's just there for rhythm. It's basically words as punctuation, and if you put anything more complicated in there, it breaks rhythm too much.

Probably none of this is really that different from everything else that has been said in this thread, I just thought I would share my considerations since I'd had 'em. :D

Yeah, I think it depends if the key part of the scene is what they say or how they say it.
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Offline J.R. Darewood

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Re: "She said"
« Reply #18 on: September 27, 2019, 04:23:01 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.

I've heard (quite a few times) that you're absolutely supposed to just use said. But that's usually from the same people who hate prologues and adverbs and omniscient POV and fun and basically all the joys of life soooo...

I'm with @Bender here. As a reader, I typically come across "said" overused and colorful variation *under-used* for my tastes at least. I've almost never seen variation overused.

Offline S. K. Inkslinger

Re: "She said"
« Reply #19 on: September 27, 2019, 08:27:27 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.

I've heard (quite a few times) that you're absolutely supposed to just use said. But that's usually from the same people who hate prologues and adverbs and omniscient POV and fun and basically all the joys of life soooo...

I'm with @Bender here. As a reader, I typically come across "said" overused and colorful variation *under-used* for my tastes at least. I've almost never seen variation overused.

+1 I'm definitely in this team, hahah.  ;D

Offline Neveesandeh

Re: "She said"
« Reply #20 on: September 27, 2019, 09:02:00 AM »

I've heard (quite a few times) that you're absolutely supposed to just use said. But that's usually from the same people who hate prologues and adverbs and omniscient POV and fun and basically all the joys of life soooo...

I'm with @Bender here. As a reader, I typically come across "said" overused and colorful variation *under-used* for my tastes at least. I've almost never seen variation overused.

I'm not a big fan of omniscient POVs and adverbs. Don't mind prologues though. A lot of people don't like them because they have a reputation for being used to dump exposition, but I hardly ever see that anymore.

Offline Justan Henner

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Re: "She said"
« Reply #21 on: September 28, 2019, 06:06:42 PM »
On the OTHER other hand, sometimes what you want is to pause in the rhythm of the dialogue to emphasise one part or another of that dialogue. "That depends," he said, "on what you want to achieve." I love that sort of thing, I love rhythm in prose. But in that case, you probably don't want to draw any attention to the tag text. It's not important, it's just there for rhythm. It's basically words as punctuation, and if you put anything more complicated in there, it breaks rhythm too much.

I'm glad you brought this up, haha.

Coincidentally enough, I actually find myself using more varied dialogue tags in some instances because different words provide different lengths of pauses, and sometimes because my brain insists that I need different combinations of consonant and vowel sounds for the rhythm to flow "correctly".

Offline cupiscent

Re: "She said"
« Reply #22 on: September 29, 2019, 12:14:15 AM »
Coincidentally enough, I actually find myself using more varied dialogue tags in some instances because different words provide different lengths of pauses, and sometimes because my brain insists that I need different combinations of consonant and vowel sounds for the rhythm to flow "correctly".

YES, 100% this. Especially if the dialogue that comes after the tag is a big reveal, or I really want the reader to pay attention to it, or I want to give it more weight, I will draaaaag out the interjected dialogue tag (use a fancier word, add a descriptive clause) to amp up the anticipation.

Or, yes, just because the rhythm feels better. All about the rhythm. :D

Offline D_Bates

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Re: "She said"
« Reply #23 on: October 14, 2019, 01:54:56 AM »
I've also read multiple times that you should either only use said or never use any speech identifier at all--which is madness.

Personally, I use only said ~90% of the time, but as cupiscent pointed out early on, there are definitely times where an an alternate verb or an adverb can change the context of what is being said quite drastically, and when those times crop up I'm not shy of doing so. For example, the emotional delivery of "She did what?" can completely change if it's screamed, exclaimed, groaned, whispered, or asked. And it goes deeper still if it's asked sharply, cheekily, despairingly etc etc.

Beyond that, my thought is that if the worst thing about the story is the dialogue identifiers you're probably on to a good thing. But people being picky about that is usually a symptom of them not fully engaging elsewhere.
Then again, the issue of distracting people by overdoing things is also real. A major peeve I have with Harry Potter books is Rowling's obsession with adverbs on every single said. When you reach the point of your characters saying things dully or cajolingly multiple times it's a good sign that you've gone too far.
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