Say it simply with said. Correct attribution in writing

Photo by Elle Hughes
Sub-editor multi-tasking

In my work as a sub-editor, the only word allowed for an attribution is ‘said’. No, ‘revealed’, no ‘pointed out’, no ‘suggested’, no ‘argued’ – just plain ‘said’.

As I have been reviewing my entry for a short story competition I need to brush up on some creative temptations that hamper style rather than improve it. One of these is waxing lyrical about what to say after quoted speech.

For fiction writers the use of the word ‘said’ can become tedious if used over and over again. Eager writers will look for ways to substitute said with other, possibly more descriptive words.

There is a superb list of alternatives to choose from and budding novelists should not be discouraged.
For those who want to get stuck in right away, or write away, here’s a glimpse of just a few quick possibilities.
– Answered (a favourite)
– Blasted
– Cited
– Exalted
– Fumed
– Garbled
– Hissed
– Intoned
– Lambasted
– Moaned

That’s just 10 ways to substitute said and should keep you busy as you fit the respective words to your characters. But getting back to said… You have to be careful that you substitute with purpose. The last thing you want is for your writing to sound forced and artificial.

There’s many a time where a simple said, will do the job just fine.

And at the cost of repeating myself, at the newspaper, said is the only attribution in the text. Here it’s all about simplicity.

And that’s all I have to say, for now.

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