I’m going to keep this short and sweet. I mean, I’m going to keep this height-challenged and bitterness-deficient.
Cliched words, cliched phrases, the word “said”. When do we embrace them?
The dreaded ‘said’
They say information comes to you at the right time for a reason. When one of my favorite authors tweeted that you should always use ‘said’ in dialogue because it becomes an invisible word, excrement smashed heavily into the wind- producing apparatus.
I made a hectic phone call to my husband, I was emailing people and setting up threads in goodreads to refute this claim. I always thought you had to stay away from using ‘said’. As I was coming up with my alternatives I was smiling at myself for working so hard at ensuring the word was underused. I use it. Especially when there’s a large chunk of dialogue and my character goes from crazy to calm. I also use it when the dialogue is punchy – I’ll throw it in every third of fourth time. And sometimes, they just ‘said’ something. I guess I’ll keep to my casual use. At the time though, I wanted to rewrite all the dialogue to ensure I would be respected by authors who follow this edict.
So was ‘said’ killed in error?
“Lorelle furrows her brow* When I read, I like to relax into a book. I understand that as writers we have to produce images and imaginative explanations without repetition, but sometimes the character just shrugs. We use metaphors and similes and idioms so that people can relate to our descriptions and our work; so they can relax into the read without them having to work out a complicated jumble of adjectives, verbs and body parts. It’s like matching someones body language in an interview: people warm to others if they believe they are like them. When I read over familiar words, it allows me to concentrate on the great characters and storyline. Of course I use unexpected words at times. It’s just that I read that publishers and agents may disregard a manuscript if there are cliched words used in the first few pages and it made me think. Have I used too many cliches? Should I be more careful to mix it up?
What do we think about cliches and the word “said”. I’d love to hear from both readers and writers 🙂