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!

Rors loves BDs - bandes desinées (comic books), but even they ring the changes with different type styles to denote how things are said!

I was reading a book with nine-year-old Ruadhri the other day, and it really grated on me that the author only said ‘said’ in the dialogue. What a wasted opportunity both to enhance the story with suggesting how the characters said what they said (whispered, gasped, cried etc), and to expand the reader’s vocabulary. Children will only learn new words if they’re exposed to him. OK, you don’t need to go too mad in children’s books, but at the very least I would expect to see a dozen or more variations.

Quite a lot of adult books only manage a narrow range of ‘said’ equivalents too. Come on, let’s get more creative and interesting!

Here are 25 alternatives to said, and that’s just scratching the surface:

Asked

Argued

Bellowed

Challenged

Cried

Croaked

Demanded

Gasped

Giggled

Grumbled

Guffawed

Laughed

Mumbled

Muttered

Offered

Pouted

Shouted

Screeched

Snarled

Suggested

Threatened

Whined

Whispered

Wondered

Yawned

 

Another 25 coming soon …