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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Said -- Still Not Dead?

Today I'm minding my own business, pulling my hair over revisions, using my beloved Scrivener, concentrating madly.

Till I decided to use the Scrivener dictionary/ thesaurus tab. I guess I must have been searching SAY, though for the life of me, five long hours later, I can't think why.

But this appeared:
 word notes!

say, said
While most writing can be improved by choosing strong and precise nouns, adjectives, and verbs, this isn't always so. When reading a novel's dialogue, we should be paying attention to what the characters say, and learn about their feelings through their words. But too many young authors overstress the verbal markers of back-and-forth speech. So we read Frank replied or Frank riposted or even Losing his temper, Frank violently expostulated. Much of the time a careful writer can set up the rhythm of a conversation so that it's always clear who's speaking and with what degree of passion. If more precise identification is needed, a simple Frank said will usually suffice, the weak and common verb scarcely intruding on the give-and-take on the page.
— MD
Conversational, opinionated, and idiomatic, these Word Notes are an opportunity to see a working writer's perspective on a particular word or usage.

Just for fun, I posted the above in my status on Facebook.
Hey, I needed a little diversion from all the very hard work I'd been doing all day.

And boy-howdie! I got some reaction from my writer friends.

Almost two years ago, I'd blogged on the subject, here:

You really should read what some extremely talented writers had to say in the comments.

Much of this controversy stems from writing lessons for students advocating the use of synonyms for said.

Two years later, the topic still excites and infuriates.
What say/ announce/ yell/ explain endlessly/ blab/ question/ sigh/ hiss/ SAY you?


Carol Baldwin said...

enjoyed this post although part of me wants to argue, roil, or barrage (is that a verb??) against it!

Shewmaker said...

Because you mentioned Scrivener, I am making a comment with is Off the Main Topic.

(However, avoid writing in this style: )

If you are interested in interacting with other Scrivener users, there is a public community for Scrivener Users on Google+. We have over 150 members. Since this is a public community you can read the community page before you decide whether or not you want to participate or not.