To only use “said” alongside the dialogue in your book is uninspiring and, let’s be honest, lazy. There are literally hundreds of alternatives lying idle in the dictionary. Go ahead and make their day by using them!
I’ve come up with over 2,000 substitutes in my latest eBook offering, and my list is just a starting point. Make your own alternatives up. Be inventive. Employ conversion, which is when you turn one word form e.g. an adjective or a noun, into another e.g. a verb. I’ve do this a lot. There’s no law against it and it makes your language interesting. Conversion is particularly common in English because the basic form of nouns and verbs is identical in many cases. Converting words is a growing trend. For example, Facebook, noun, has become a verb – “I Facebooked Fred yesterday”. Same with text (noun) when it’s used to do with sending messages by mobile phone. “Will you text Suzie about the meeting please?” And my daughter is always Kindling, i.e. reading on her Kindle.
Language is meant to evolve. It’s a living thing.
Even in children’s books you should ring the changes as much as possible. Too many authors in this genre seem to think kids can only cope with “said” and, on a good day, “asked” as well. Crazy! I was talking to some pupils at a school in Ireland about my books. One child informed me that I used a lot of long words in my books, to my surprise, as I have always attempted to use language of an appropriate level for the age group I was aiming at. I asked if that put her off reading them. “Oh no,” she smiled. “Now I know lots of long words too!” So you see, your inventive and creative writing in avoiding “said” both livens up the text and teaches kids new words.
Don’t be afraid to push language to its limits like Larkin, Pound and other poets have tried to do. Enrich your readers’ vocabulary at the same time as entertaining them. Don’t be boring. And PLEASE don’t say “said”!
My eBook of 2,100 alternatives to “said” listed alphabetically, and incorporating both UK and US English spellings, is intended to inspire you to be more adventurous in your use of language. Not all of the suggestions will work in every case. They’re not meant to, but there will be the odd time when each one is the perfect word.
To get your copy, available in pdf and prc formats, go to my eBook-ed.it website here, fill in your name and email address (your details won’t be passed on to anyone) and you’ll receive an email with the link to follow. I hope you’ll find the eBook useful!