There will be people, my dear writers, who will tell you that “said” is the old, new, and only black – the final word in dialogue tags.
You may cry (or, according to Them, you may absolutely not cry, nor exclaim, demand, or wonder), “Says who?”
Not Catherine Austen, that’s who!
In her blog post trilogy “He Said/She Sighed”, Austen has her say on “said”, to which I – speaking as one who’s been jarred aplenty by the overuse of the so-called invisible word, who’ll take colorful and creative variation over bland repetition any day of the week, and who just plain doesn’t like being told which pieces of perfectly proper English I should and shouldn’t use in the stories of my creation – say, shout, and cheer, “Hear, hear!”
Parts one, two, and three give full and humorous vent to Austen’s thoughts on the matter, perhaps flying in the face of advice you’ve had hammered into you from sources innumerable. My advice to you, fellow writers? Hey, You Should Read This! Particularly this summary of the posts’ shining spirit:
It is silly to think there are words denied to writers, that there are entire classes of words off limits to good writing. That is just crazy. Lists of writing tips are shallow by nature – they will never tell anyone how to write well. We must dig deeper for that. Don’t get sidetracked checking off boxes for a paint-by-number book that follows tips like “don’t use adverbs” or “use said as your only dialogue verb.” You don’t have to do that. What you have to do is much, much harder. – Catherine Austen
Any thoughts on “said”, or similar writing advice, you’d like to share? Say on in the comments – here and/or over at Catherine Austen’s blog.