Make said your default. As an attribution it does the job to tell the reader who is speaking. Some prefer a bit more creativity or drama and believe said just isn’t enough. I must add this here that this is Mr. Bell’s opinion and if you do not subscribe to this process…I agree. That being said<– teehee…Mr. Bell believes you are wrong if you need anything other than said. Mr. Bell believes the reader doesn’t pay attention to the attributions anyway, and if you substitute the simpler word you are causing the reader to do more work. But you can also overuse or abuse the word. If every line starts or stops with said, it is overdone and extremely BORING! Good Lawd. This is where I would throw the book across the room and bang my head on the coffee table.
Hi. “How are you?” I asked. Or, “Good morning friends. How are you?” I asked as I poured a fresh cuppa for each of us. That’s a lot of cuppas. Geesh. As we move through this section, I will put down what Mr. Bell is suggesting, but I don’t always agree. Just remember these are suggestions. If they do not work for you then move on and wait for a section that suits you. We can always learn someone else’s perspective. We may learn a new way or understand a different opinion. Either way, we are learning. So, run on and get your copy of How to Write Dazzling Dialogue by James Scott Bell and a nibble. You shouldn’t need a cuppa cuz I filled them all. Remember.
Should you use ‘asked’? he asked
There are some who believe the word asked after a question mark is redundant. To be honest, I never thought about it. As a writer or a reader, it never offended me. So, do with this as YOU will.
Use alternatives only if absolutely necessary
Mr. Bell believes that other words can be used sparingly throughout dialogue. Such as whispered, growled, barked, even spat. When you choose to use words like these, please, ensure they are used well. Don’t just throw them around. Give them a proper place and don’t minimize them by overuse.
Kill most adverbs, but have mercy on some
Some of these headings are confusing. So, to clarify- thank you dictionary.com
If you choose to use adverbs in your writing be cautious on the amount.
[ ad-vurb ]SHOW IPA
any member of a class of words that function as modifiers of verbs or clauses, and in some languages, as Latin and English, as modifiers of adjectives, other adverbs, or adverbial phrases, as very in very nice, much in much more impressive, and tomorrow in She’ll write to you tomorrow. They relate to what they modify by indicating place (I promise to be there), time (Do your homework now!), manner (She sings beautifully), circumstance (He accidentally dropped the glass when the bell rang), degree (I’m very happy to see you), or cause (I draw, although badly).
Occasionally put ‘said’ in the middle
This is what we talked about before. Adding an attribution between two sentences or breaking a sentence into two parts for emphasis.
“I love…” I said, “coffee.” – Me- I would have used stammered over said. But that’s me.
Use action beats for variety, but not exclusively
Because dialogue is a form of action, we need to use movement to assist what is being said.
Example: Ticia huffed and ripped the tissues from the box as she attempted to mop up the cuppa coffee she spilled, “Such a waste of a beautiful cuppa.” She tossed the coffee stained wad in the bin and refilled her favorite mug.
Believe it or not- we will be traversing Part 3 next. Chapter 6 is a monster! Go 6!
Please remember that I am not trying to write this book for you word for word. I am skipping a lot of detail. I highly suggest you purchase the book and read between the lines.
Polish your sparkle and keep twirling.
Find joy. Be joy. Enjoy.
I’m always looking for new friends!
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