476 Ways to Avoid Writing “Said”

The folks over at ProofreadingServices.com created the incredible infographic below. Four hundred and seventy-six alternatives to the word “said.”

Take care not to use all 476 in your manuscript! Very often “said” is all that is needed. In fact, overusing alternatives can weigh your manuscript down unnecessarily.

However, I do hope that having this handy dandy chart at your fingertips can be of help to you!

If the words are too small to see on your device, you can click on the infographic itself to go to the original page or just visit: https://www.proofreadingservices.com/pages/said-infographic

22 Responses to 476 Ways to Avoid Writing “Said”

  1. Avatar
    Kristen Stieffel October 5, 2020 at 4:02 am #

    The loud and quiet lists are okay, but everything else in this chart is the kind of word I look to *delete* when I’m editing. Much of the time, those kinds of tags are redundant with the message of the dialogue.

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube October 5, 2020 at 9:24 am #

      Kristen,

      Agreed. The tags are redundant if the dialogue already expresses the emotion.

      However, like adding a pinch of salt, the OCCASIONAL alternative can add some spice and flavor.

      Unfortunately I’ve seen manuscripts where the overuse of dialogue tags overwhelms the craft.

      It becomes a very easy rejection.

    • Avatar
      Cherrilynn Bisbano October 5, 2020 at 12:35 pm #

      I agree. I was told to delete most of these words. I wonder if the rules changed.

  2. Avatar
    red October 5, 2020 at 5:09 am #

    Said is a null word. A reader will ignore it but knows it’s there. One of the best ways to avoid it’s use is “Well, I can see your point.” Jack turned and gave a small shrug.

    Any use of the alternatives should, in my opinion, but nota part of the dialogue, but action on the part of the seeker. peace to you

  3. Avatar
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser October 5, 2020 at 5:51 am #

    Pity the poor benighted word
    overused to describe speaking;
    wise editors would point us toward
    alternatives, as example seeking
    a statement pushed ahead at speed,
    words coming in a rush;
    the literary tool we maybe need
    is to call this speech a ‘gush’.
    And some folk talk like slow molasses;
    you’ll lose the thread and get confused,
    so perhaps the way that passes
    muster is to say, “He oozed…”
    And finally, “Words sadly bled…”
    still outshines poor humble ‘said’.

  4. Avatar
    Eva Marie Everson October 5, 2020 at 6:02 am #

    What always “gets” me when I’m edited (typically a new novelist) are lines such as:

    “I am goading you,” she goaded.
    “I am answering you,” she answered.

    Or, one of my favorites:

    “I am angry!” she screamed.

    How about: She turned to him, the fury rising up in her, her thoughts no longer capable of logic. She opened her mouth to scream at him, curse at him, call him every vile word she’d ever learned. Instead, she grabbed the closest thing to her–his precious award made of marble and mahogany–and threw it at his head.

    (Now we’re talkin’!)

    ’nuff said.

    • Avatar
      Eva Marie Everson October 5, 2020 at 6:06 am #

      Apparently I need to edit my own words before I click “Post Comment.”

      When I am EDITING … not when I am EDITED.

      Oye.

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube October 5, 2020 at 9:28 am #

      Eva,

      “Thank you,” Steve said thankfully.

      LOL!!!

  5. Avatar
    Abby Martin October 5, 2020 at 6:20 am #

    Steve, this is wonderful! My high school creative writing teacher gave me 30. But hey, 476 is pretty good too! Who am I kidding? That many is amazing! ✍🏻

  6. Avatar
    Frank H Ball October 5, 2020 at 7:53 am #

    Terrible advice to use anything other than “said” for tag verbs. Other than “shout” or “whispered,” use beats to add meaning to the dialog and identify the speaker. Many writing pundits have told us “said” is the right choice, what we call an “invisible” word. Yet we persist in burdening the tag with a verb that describes instead of vocalizing the dialog.

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube October 5, 2020 at 9:26 am #

      Frank,

      As I mentioned in the above comment, there are some times where the invisible “said” can be used.

      But when a writer avoids “said” all the time it becomes “overwriting” which is one of the most common reasons I reject a manuscript.

    • Avatar
      Dale October 6, 2020 at 10:40 pm #

      Tell us what you really think, Frank, don’t hold back. Ha!

      Personally, I confessed, “I was able to remove and replace eleven ‘said’ words with great alternatives from the list!”

      Wink, wink

  7. Avatar
    Angie Cantu October 5, 2020 at 8:21 am #

    Thank you so much. I appreciate your newsletter.

  8. Avatar
    Kristen Joy Wilks October 5, 2020 at 10:13 am #

    Oooh! I think that I’ll just use the universal find and replace “said” with “blathered” in my next story!!! That is my favorite at least, ha!

  9. Avatar
    Jeannie Delahunt October 5, 2020 at 6:44 pm #

    Awesome list! Do you have a list for, “walking”?

    I’ve been trying to put together alternatives for this word each time I come across a stronger verb.

    Thank you!

  10. Avatar
    Carol R Nicolet Loewen October 5, 2020 at 6:52 pm #

    Good points, Steve. I know some say “said” is usually the best word but it can seem repetitive to me. I prefer using action to help solidify who is speaking.

  11. Avatar
    OLUSOLA SOPHIA ANYANWU October 5, 2020 at 11:47 pm #

    May God save us from overwriting or from its subtle use. A great list. God bless you.

  12. Avatar
    Dale October 6, 2020 at 10:33 pm #

    Most grateful for this handy list! First time author and while editing a 4,800 word story I was able to remove and replace eleven ‘said’ words with great alternatives from the list!

    My first reply, but devoted reader of your blog. Thank you, I find it helpful. The ‘show don’t tell’ blogs have been referred on several occasions.

  13. Avatar
    Sheri Dean Parmelee, Ph.D. October 9, 2020 at 5:34 am #

    Thanks for the news that, apparently, “said” is out and blathered (a personal favorite from your list) is in!
    This list is a keeper!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 10-08-2020 | The Author Chronicles - October 8, 2020

    […] We can always improve our writing. Carol Tice says to fix these 10 common writing errors, Melissa Donovan has 100 common-sense ways to write better, and Steve Laube shares an infographic with 476 ways to avoid writing “said.” […]

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