By: C.S. Lakin
Our focus this month is on words: specifically, adverbs, superfluous verbiage, tics, and “weasel words.” Overuse of such words constitutes our Fatal Flaw #11, a pox on many writers’ prose.
Before I jump into my own topic on this flaw, a few words about said.
Said, when used with a pronoun, creates what’s known as a dialog (or speaker) tag: it’s a phrase that tells us who’s speaking. He said, she said, they said, he called, she cried, he replied, and all the rest.
Beginning writers, zealous to eliminate weasel words (and occasionally armed with bad advice about “passive language”) sometimes slash this one mercilessly. But that’s not always a good idea.
Said, while it’s admittedly boring, is invisible. Readers don’t really notice it unless it’s used so often that it becomes extreme. In almost every case, the words we would use to replace it are worse: “Shut up!” he implored. “No!” she protested. “Please stop!” they cajoled. (
Tags that actually identify a special action—like
screaming, whining, or whispering—are fine where appropriate.)
But you don’t just want to end every line of dialog
with “she said” either. And
while paragraphing and conversational interplay will sometimes let us know
who’s speaking without any extra direction from the author, writing dialog without
any tags at all can get confusing (especially if you have more than two people
The best call is to use dialog tags—use said, in fact, and its equally invisible counterpart asked—but use them sparingly, not after every line of dialog. And for the rest of the space? There are action beats.
Introducing the Action Beat
. . .
To read the rest of the post, click here:
If you missed my writing & marketing tweets and retweets yesterday, here they are again:
SnapchatRolls Out Story Explorer: This Week in Social Media SocialMedia Examiner http://ow.ly/Ved9v
- The Power Of Point Of View http://ow.ly/VeeE4 #writetip
With Trolls and the Irretrievably Lost...
butThankful for You - Storyfix.com http://ow.ly/VefhM
- How to Develop Your Writing Skills http://ow.ly/Vefxt
- Emotional Wound Entry: Having to Kill Another Person To Survive - WRITERS HELPING WRITERS™WRITERS HELPING WRITERS™ http://ow.ly/VefQB
- Oh, Those Lovely Adverbs | Live Write Thrive http://ow.ly/VefYs
- Is Blogging Finally Dead? http://ow.ly/VegeC
- 6 Holiday Instagram Marketing Tips for Businesses Social Media Examiner http://ow.ly/VegmH
- How to Take Good Pictures With Your Phone: 17 Tips & Tricks to Try http://ow.ly/VegsU
- 3 Editing and Proofreading Lessons to Help You Elevate the Quality of Your Content - Copyblogger http://ow.ly/VekgN
- Christmas Indie Author Event Idea | Self-Publishing Author Advice from The Alliance of Independent Authors http://ow.ly/VekuQ
- Amazon Books should be the future of brick-and-mortar retail chains | The Passive Voice | http://ow.ly/VekzD
- Online Reviews: How to Respond to Fraudulent Reviews Social Media Examiner http://ow.ly/VekFu
- 21 Ways a Reader Might Find Your Author Website http://ow.ly/Vero3
- Guest Post – It’s Supposed to Hurt: Writing Violence that Feels Real » Inkpunks http://ow.ly/Ves7d
- Actions Speak Louder than Dialog Tags: Using Beats in Writing | Live Write Thrive http://ow.ly/VesaR