Creating Tone through Dialogue

Think your manuscript’s filled with repeating words or phrases? “Said” is one of the most re-used terms in the English language, which is a pity considering how many other terms there are for speaking. Below are some simple words that can substitute “said” easily, separated by situations your speaker may be in.

First talker
♣ Began
♣ Started
Talking Next
♦ Acknowledged
♦ Answered
♦ Protested
♦ Responded
♦ Retorted
♦ Replied
Last Speaker
♣ Concluded
♣ Concurred
♣ Determined
♣ Ended
♣ Finished

Keeps Speaking
♦ Elaborated
♦ Commented
♦ Continued
♦ Lectured
♦ Ranted
♦ Surmised
Seeking Attention
♣ Enunciated
♣ Explained
♣ Elaborated
♣ Hinted
♣ Implied
♣ Lectured

♣ Reiterated
♣ Recited
♣ Reminded
♣ Stressed

Judgemental
♣ Advised
♣ Criticized
♣ Suggested
Small Talk
♦ Commented
♦ Guessed
♦ Mentioned
♦ Noted
♦ Observed

♦ Pointed out
♦ Remarked
♦ Stated
♦ Voiced

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8 thoughts on “Creating Tone through Dialogue

  1. You can avoid any dialogue tag by doing an action followed (or preceded) by a statement. For example: “I hate this stuff!” He hurled the plate at the wall. OR: She stared at him. “You bought a boat?” A good practice might be to mix things up — use “said” most of the time, no tags at all when that works, and a few carefully-chosen colourful tags peppered in here and there.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I also say this flouts convention. ‘Said’ is an invisible word. It is those ‘alternatives’ that are to be avoided. The occasional ‘replied’ in response to a question is okay, or an ‘asked’ following a question, even the odd ‘shout’ (which surprisingly isn’t listed), but most of the others simply aren’t speech tags and their use will not impress editors and agents.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This flies in the face of other articles I’ve read telling the reader NOT to use verbs other than said, replied, asked. Maybe commented. My editor has axed some of my attempts to use more colorful verbs for speech. Drat. What to do?

    Liked by 1 person

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