I did one of these ages ago (like, wow, two years ago ish). But now, I’m revising it with new found writerly knowledge (see, you just keep on learning!).
Last time, I said to never use the word ‘said’ because it was dull and boring. I always used to use a different word other than ‘said’, even if it took me ages to find an appropriate one. Since then, however, I’ve began to do the exact thing I said not to: use the word ‘said’. And often, quite a lot.
Why the change? Well, a couple of reasons:
- It’s easier. Why spend hours looking for a synonym of ‘said’, when the word itself will suffice? Sure, it might not always be the most interesting or quirky or different, but it still works.
- Readers don’t ‘read’ the word ‘said’ that often – it’s obvious it’s being said – so using a relatively complicated synonym will mean that they may pause in your writing, which breaks their flow of reading.
Common synonyms of ‘said’ – like whispered, shouted, yelled and some adverbs like seriously or quietly – don’t tend to take away from the writing because readers are so used to reading them. But using a relatively complicated verb like ‘recounted’ or ‘narrated’ means the reader pauses and perhaps has to take a moment to realise what the word means.
Using ‘said’ all the time can be boring, but using synonyms all the time can get complicated for the author and takes away from other action on the page which you might wish to draw attention to. ‘Said’ is an ‘invisible’ word – the readers just skim over it and move on to the next word. So if you don’t have to, don’t waste your energy on finding something else. As a great saying goes: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
Sorry I haven’t written that often guys, a) I hate writing on the iPad and b) I’ve been away. I’m leaving America tomorrow, so posts will be back to normal for next week! Well, as normal as they get with me, anyway!