Monday, November 12, 2007
Why can't you just say it?
One of my personal pet peeves in published literature is this--authors love to find substitutes for the word "said". I'm not sure what well-meaning elementary school teacher decided "said" was not cool enough to stand on its own, but he or she did us a disservice. In the words of author Tim Wynne-Jones, "Such people are dead wrong." (http://www.timwynne-jones.com/) I get annoyed and distracted when a book's characters observe, declare, warn, assure, answer, and reply instead of just talking. Then, to make it even worse, they do so gladly, loudly, smilingly, etc. Enough with the adverbs! It's obvious that finding "said" substitutes (and filling up space) is exactly what the writer is doing. If a writer can't let "said" stand on its own because it wrecks the pacing or because it's too boring or because there's not enough detail without the extraneous declarations and assurances, then maybe the writer needs to rethink the whole scene .