Monday, 13 June 2016

He said, she said: Rules of Writing No. 1

The Rule:
Always use 'said' as the verb to describe the act of someone speaking.

Why? 
Neutrality - 'said' is a neutral word,  it disappears to the reader so doesn't clutter the page unlike, say, expostulated.
Redundancy - "Why do you like cats?" she asked.  There's a question mark, so it's obvious he's asking a question.
Physical impossibility - "I love cats; they're so cute," he giggled.  Giggling makes a noise, but not one that forms itself into intelligible words.

When to break the Rule
Volume - you may want to indicate if someone is shouting 'he yelled' or speaking quietly 'she whispered'.
Tone - muttering is different in tone and attitude from whispering, or speaking quietly for that matter.
Information - 'I'll have another drink,' he slurred shows us his state of inebriation without spelling it out as in 'I'll have another drink,' he said drunkenly.


1 comment:

Anita Chapman said...

Perfect, and helpful explanation, Sarah! I learnt this through a writing class a few years ago, but wish I'd had your blog as a reference when I first started novel-writing.