My Say on "Said"

Bloggified by Jake on Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A big part of the revisions I have stacked on my desk involves minor changes like--in the words of my agent--"deleting adverbs and changing the more complex 'intoned,' 'remarked,' and 'proclaimed' into the more simple and kid-friendly 'said.'"

Putting aside the fact I love adverbs--absolutely, positively, unquestionably love adverbs--I have always hated the word "said." Since I was in elementary school, I've always felt "said" is a word a writer could fall back on when he ran out of other options. "Said" indicates your lips were moving and words were coming out, but gives no further insight to tone, meaning, or attitude.

It's a meaningless word, like "went." If I wrote "Chad Johnson caught the pass and went into the end zone," you know nothing.

On the other hand, "Chad Johnson caught the pass and as the ball touched his hands he found a new level of speed he'd never felt before. His legs burst forward beneath him and he felt powerless to do anything but hold on for his own safety, watching as defenders charged toward him but found themselves tackling only emptiness in his wake," paints a more vivid picture.

Alas, I'm playing their game. Maybe future books can feature myriad alternatives for "said," but in the meantime I guess I've said all I have to say on the subject.

1 sarcastic replies:

Ken said...

I used to agree with you, on the word "said". But then I read this:

It's good advice and now I do my best to follow it.

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