Author Topic: What are other words for "said"?  (Read 202 times)

Offline jt72

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What are other words for "said"?
« on: July 08, 2021, 09:51:58 PM »
Other words for "said"

Neutral/multi-purpose words

Acknowledged   Added   Agreed   Announced   Articulated   Asserted   Began   Blurted
Called  Commented   Communicated   Conferred   Considered   Contended   Declared   
Denoted   Drawled   Emitted   Ended   Enunciated   Expressed   Interjected
Mentioned   Noted   Observed   Orated   Predicted   Pronounced   Quipped   Recited   
Reckoned   Related   Remarked   Repeated   Replied   Responded   Shared   Stated
Told   Uttered   Vocalized   Voiced

Happy/excited words

Approved  Babbled   Beamed   Bubbled   Chattered   Cheered   Chimed in   Chortled   
Chuckled   Congratulated   Complimented   Crooned   Effused   Exclaimed
Giggled   Grinned   Gushed   Jabbered   Joked   Laughed   Praised   Rejoiced   Sang   
Smiled   Thanked   Trilled   Yammered

Sad/upset words

Agonized   Apologized   Bawled   Blubbered   Cried   Fretted   Grieved   Groaned
Lamented   Mewled   Moaned   Mumbled   Sobbed   Sighed Sniffled   Sniveled Wailed 
Angry words

Accused   Choked   Badgered   Barked   Bellowed   Chastised   Cursed   Demanded
Exploded   Fumed   Glowered   Growled   Hissed   Insulted   Raged   Ranted   Reprimanded   
Roared    Scolded   Screamed   Screeched   Snarled   Shouted   Swore   Thundered
Vociferated   Yelled
Annoyed words

Bleated   Complained   Condemned   Criticized   Groused   Grumbled   Grunted   Mocked
Rasped   Rejoined  Retorted   Scoffed   Smirked   Snapped   Whined
Frightened/pained words

Cautioned   Gulped   Howled   Keened   Panted   Prayed  Quavered   Screamed   Shrieked   
Squalled   Squealed   Trembled   Wailed   Warbled   Whimpered   Yelped   Yowled   Warned
Prideful words

Advertised   Bloviated   Boasted   Boomed Bossed Bragged   Broadcasted   Crowed   Dictated
Gloated   Ordered   Prattled   Preached   Swaggered   Trumpeted
Words to express uncertainty

Breathed   Doubted   Faltered  Hesitated   Lilted   Mumbled   Murmured   Muttered   Shrugged   
Squeaked   Stammered   Stuttered   Trailed off   Vacillated   Whispered
Words that make fun

Derided   Jeered   Heckled   Lampooned   Mocked   Mimicked   Parodied   Ridiculed   Satirized   
Scorned   Spoofed   Sneered   Snickered   Taunted   Teased
Words that ask a question

Asked   Begged   Challenged   Contemplated   Guessed   Hinted   Hypothesized   Implied   
Inquired   Interrogated   Invited   Mouthed   Mused   Pleaded   Pondered   Probed   Proposed   
Puzzled   Repeated   Requested   Requisitioned   Queried   Questioned   Quizzed   Solicited   
Speculated   Wondered
Words that give an answer

Accepted   Advised   Affirmed   Alleged   Answered   Assured   Avowed   Claimed   Conceded   
Concluded   Confided   Confirmed   Explained   Disclosed   Disseminated   Divulged
Imparted   Informed   Indicated   Maintained   Notified   Offered   Passed on   Proffered   
Promised   Promulgated    Released   Reported   Revealed   Shared   Specified 
Speculated   Supposed   Testified     Transmitted   Verified
How to use other words for said

1. Insert them sparingly

Even though you now have tons of colorful verbs at your disposal, the truth is that you should use unusual dialogue tags very sparingly. For one thing, as we mentioned in the intro, "said" is sufficient most of the time. And for another, you don't always need a tag, especially if you've already established who's speaking!

To see why you shouldn't use too many tags, descriptive or otherwise, take a look at the following dialogue sample:

“What are you doing here?” he demanded.
“What do you think I’m doing here?” she inquired.
“You know this isn’t going to work,” he sneered.
"I think you're underestimating me," she retorted.

The descriptive tags here are clearly overkill — you can easily deduce the tone of the conversation without them. But even using "he said"/"she said" four times in a row would be unnecessary in this case, as it's only two people speaking. A much-improved revision would be to keep just one tag, and identify the second speaker in a more indirect way:

“What are you doing here?” he demanded.
She stepped across the threshold. “What do you think I’m doing here?”
“You know this isn’t going to work."
"I think you're underestimating me."

The reader doesn't need many tags to see that this conversation is between two people. It's only in lengthy conversations of more than two that you may need to use "said" multiple times. And even then, you should still keep your "alternative" tags to a minimum, as they distract from the dialogue itself.

2. Ensure the word fits

Speaking of distractions, nothing is more distracting to readers than when a word just seems "off." This is why, when you do use a descriptive dialogue tag, it needs to fit the situation perfectly.

While this tip might sound obvious, editors can attest that odd verbs in dialogue tags are all too common. For example:

“I never want to see you again!” he exclaimed.

That might seem like a good place to use the word exclaim, since we know it means to say something loudly. However, the underlying connotations of "exclaim" are a bit different — an exclamation is usually a positive shout of surprise, not a negative one. Better tags for the dialogue above might be:

“I never want to see you again!” he bellowed.
“I never want to see you again!” he roared.
“I never want to see you again!” he snarled.

All of these depict the tone more accurately than "exclaimed." And again, you don't even really need such a descriptive tag, as the message here is pretty clear.

But if you do decide to use one, make sure you know what it actually means! This is where our list comes in handy — you know exactly which words are associated with which emotions and scenarios.

3. Break up with action beats

Another strategy to make these unusual tags work is to break them up with action beats, or descriptions of what characters are doing in the scene.

If you're not familiar with action beats, just look back at the revised example from tip #1! "She stepped across the threshold" is an action beat that shows the character's movement as she speaks, to signal that she's the one talking.

An action beat may appear before or after a line of dialogue, or even in the middle — just make sure to punctuate it properly. Here are a few more examples of action beats:

a) Murphy approached the stand and took a deep breath. "The defendant pleads not guilty, Your Honor."

b) "I was just trying," I said through clenched teeth, trying to control my frustration, "to help you out, for once in your miserable life."

c) "When are we going to the beach?" Sophie looked up at her mother expectantly.

Action beats are a useful alternative to bona fide dialogue tags, and a great way to mix up your scenes. That said, as with other dialogue indicators, you want to keep action beats to a minimum. In a typical scene, you might have one extra-descriptive tag and a couple of action beats. The rest should all be "he said"/"she said" and implied speech, to keep the pace moving along nicely.

4. Make "said" more interesting

Finally, one of the best ways to balance your use of alternative tags is to simply use "said" — but make it fashion! By which we mean, if you have the urge to use dynamic tags, redirect that creative energy toward making your "said"s a little more interesting. You might use action beats, as in example b) above, or you might use adjectives and adverbs to spruce things up a little.

Common descriptors to use with "said" include:
•She said with a smile.
•He said with a sigh.
•She said with a laugh.
•He said as he walked away.
•She said, shaking her head.
•He said in an [adjective] way.

Of course, you can replace any of these with more vivid, specific phrases — she said with a grin, he said as he trotted away, etc. And there are plenty more ways to accessorize "said" — he said with a salacious wink, she said as she crossed her arms, he said in a forlorn voice, she said with profound concentration. The possibilities are literally endless!

The same is true of adverbs, like "happily" and "quickly." However, many writers consider adverbs a mark of purple prose, so keep them to a reasonable minimum. You might use an adverb to modify "said" in a particularly dramatic situation ("How could you keep this from me?" she said furiously). But otherwise, verbs and adjectives tend to do the trick.

Information source:
Interesting the way the internet really works.   jt jt