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Saturday, February 13, 2016

Dialogue Tags: said vs asked

I am a big fan of "said" as a dialogue tag. To me, when a writer uses too many tags like "he remonstrated," "she noted," "he uttered," or "John asserted," it draws attention to those words instead of the dialogue. It can also sound very stilted, very written. "Said," on the other hand, is invisible. 

However...I just read a novel that used it for questions, like this:

 "Where are you going?" she said. 

 "Do you want Chinese or pizza?" he said. 

 To me, this "said" is jarring. Why not use "asked?" (Again, I'm not a fan of more than an occasional use of "inquired," "questioned," "queried," etc.)

 I think the main point is that you don't want the reader paying attention to these little crutch words. You want them paying attention to the dialogue and losing themselves in your invented world. 

My dear writing critique buddy, Barbara, loves suggesting alternates to "said." And in her writing they often really work. So I guess it's all about your style and voice.

 Happy writing!

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