Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Common Problems (Part 17 of 50)

Watch those dialog attributes. Creative writing teachers tend to urge their students to avoid using the boring word said. Professional writers, however, give exactly the opposite advice.

We do it for two reasons and the first is because said is invisible. So are asked, answered, and replied. Because they are so common, readers scarcely notice.

The second reason to avoid strong attributes is because they take the emphasis off what and put it on how.

  • "You will never take me alive!" he yelled.
  • "You must never do that again," Ellen remonstrated. 
  • "I want my money," he demanded. 

If we write dialog well, readers don't need an attribution to know how to interpret the words.

If you want to emphasize how someone speaks, you do need the right attribute: "I hate you," she purred.

Said is a good dialog attribute; 
it's good because it's invisible.

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Cec's new book, Unleash the Writer Within, is now available. 

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