He said/She said

he_said_She_saidIn writing, “said” is often one of those words we read over or take for granted. It’s almost like “the.” In fact, we often leave it out. But, as writers, sometimes we can get lazy and use “said” plus a modifier to convey a meaning better expressed with a stronger verb.

So, as you review your dialogue, think about a few of these words that might help you tell the reader just what your character is saying.

Here is my list of 21 strong verbs that help convey the emotion in dialogue.

  1. argued
  2. boasted
  3. bragged
  4. complained
  5. dared
  6. demanded
  7. denied
  8. guessed
  9. joked
  10. lied
  11. muttered
  12. objected
  13. offered
  14. quipped
  15. reasoned
  16. recalled
  17. shouted
  18. stammered
  19. teased
  20. tested
  21. warned

If you have a favorite word for said, add it in the comments.


6 comments on “He said/She said

  1. thewhispersbehind
    August 26, 2014

    Since I love writing a good argument, I think my favorite “said” is fumed. “I think the window closed for you to be anything other than talentless whore when you sold your soul to Diego for nothing more than a few dipped pearls. “Luis fumed.

    • Adrian W. Lilly
      August 26, 2014

      Fumed is an excellent choice. Any time a word gives us a little extra insight into the emotion at that moment, it adds to the storytelling.

      • thewhispersbehind
        August 26, 2014

        I agree. Thanks for your writing prompts. They open up a creative side that I don’t see often.

  2. cartervail
    September 24, 2014

    Thank you for this post and sharing other words to use instead of said! I often get tired of writing said, it gets boring. What do you think about flows of dialogue without said or anything words just the quotes?

    • Adrian W. Lilly
      September 24, 2014

      Glad you agree. As far as your question, I think the best storytelling has a good variety. Sinclair Lewis, author of notable novels like Main Street and Babbitt, could write pages of dialogue and not use the word said. I think spicing up dialogue by omitting the tags is a helpful device. This is more difficult, of course, when multiple characters are in the dialogue. With only two characters, they are easier to omit. Furthermore, using action to move the dialogue is a great technique.

      Sarah continued to brush her hair. “So, are we going?”

      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Pingback: Tighten your #NaNoWriMo Writing | ADRIANLILLY.COM

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This entry was posted on August 26, 2014 by in Writing Wrongs: Essays on Language and tagged , , , , , .

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