Archive for October 28th, 2008

Oct 28 2008

Don’t Overuse Exotic Substitutes for “Said”

I provide advice about how to write novels, comic books and graphic novels. Most of my content applies to fiction-writing in general, but I also provide articles specifically about superhero stories.

Beginning authors tend to overuse “said bookisms,” which are words used to replace the word “said.”  For example, in the sentence “I’m ready!” he declared, declared is a said-bookism.


Using more than a few said-bookisms per page will probably make the dialogue feel melodramatic and stilted (“I’m hungry,” he uttered). Some common said-bookisms are potentially distracting because they aren’t actually a way to speak.  For example, “I knew you’d come back,” she smiled lazily conflates two actions: the speaking and the smiling.   No, she didn’t smile those words.  It would be clearer and probably more publisher-friendly to change the phrase to “she said with a smile” or give the two actions their own sentences.


Additionally, animal-sounds are unusually annoying.  It doesn’t take much of him clucking and her purring to sound absolutely ridiculous.

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