outlaws 1

I remember my first ever argument with an editor. It was about the word said. Said is an invisible word so you should always use it, my editor argued. It’s not invisible because I cringe every time I read it line after line. I cannot be the only one who can’t stand it. I replied. Long story short, I changed editors.

With this in mind you begin to realise that if one is not careful they could easily begin to overuse words like replied, argued, answered and so on. Therefore, we have made a list of all the words you can use instead of said. Feel free to add more in the comments below.

What Looks Better?

SAID

“To say I’ve missed you two would be an understatement,” Matt said, as he let her go. “It’s been way too quiet back home.”

“Glad to see you’re doing okay,“ Colin said, smiling at her.

“I’m surprised to see you, Colin,” Priestley said, as he shook hands. “I thought you were afraid to fly.”

John barked a laugh.

“He assured us he’d cope, got into the euro-copter then had a complete breakdown.  I was going to suggest he’d stay behind when John dealt with the situation.” Matt said.

“Someone had to,” John said. “Knocking him cold was the least I could do.”

OTHER

“To say I’ve missed you two would be an understatement,” Matt said, as he let her go. “It’s been way too quiet back home.”

“Glad to see you’re doing okay,“ Colin smiled at her.

“I’m surprised to see you, Colin,” Priestley began as he shook hands. “I thought you were afraid to fly.”

John barked a laugh as Matt explained for an embarrassed Colin. “He assured us he’d cope, got into the euro-copter then had a complete breakdown.  I was going to suggest he’d stay behind when John dealt with the situation.”

“Someone had to,” John put in. “Knocking him cold was the least I could do.”

Above extract comes from Outlaws: Echoes in the Dark.

outlaws book 4

What The Experts Say

As an editor I generally do tell my clients to stop using the same words over and over, but that doesn’t apply to every word, just the ones that draw attention to themselves. Said, like and and the, does not draw attention to itself; thus, there’s no reason to avoid it just because it’s a useful word.

Jackal Editing

Just because you can use “said” with comparative abandon doesn’t mean you should. I ran a search in my 143,000-word work-in-progress; “said” shows up 311 times–which, honestly, kind of shocked me. That’s not very often, really. And the reason it doesn’t show up more than that is because there are a host of other options at the author’s fingertips.

Helping Writers Become Authors

Bottom Line

Said is good, if used correctly it is an invisible word. However, you do not want to overuse it. Use other words as well. Overusing the word said is just as bad as not using the word said at all. Mix and match.

So, use the word said but do not use it after every sentence. Mix this up with actions or use a different word to get the flow of your book right. Read it out loud. If it sounds wrong it probably is. Have someone you know to be honest read it. Find the balance that suits your writing.

Other Words You Can Use

Thinking
Think about your choice of words. Does it sound right?
  • Acknowledged
  • Added
  • Admitted
  • Answered
  • Apologized
  • Conceded
  • Confessed
  • Implored
  • Inquired
  • Insisted
  • Proposed
  • Professed
  • Protested
  • Queried
  • Questioned
  • Recommended
  • Testified

Of course there’s way more then what I got here, but you kno what? I have the perfect link for you

This guy has spent his time putting together a list of over 250 words to use instead of said. I highly recommend checking it out.

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