Today’s Writing Tip

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Next on the list after typos for reasons why a story didn’t receive a 5-star review was too many “he said/she saids”. It’s obviously not necessarily to include who said what with every piece of dialog. Again, balance is the key. When it’s a clear “dialog” with one person speaking, then the other, you can go on for a while, as long as it’s reasonably apparent who’s speaking. Nonetheless, an occasional reminder is good, too. If a conversation goes on for a couple of pages, it never hurts to insert either a “s/he said” or perhaps some action, such as a facial expression or gesture, to indicate who’s speaking.

When readers have to go back and figure out who’s speaking, it interrupts the story flow and throws them out of the story, which is something a diligent author should avoid at all costs.


Today’s Writing Tip

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When someone asks a question, be sure to punctuate with a “?” However, this can vary with narration. “He wondered whether the police had all the evidence” is a statement but “Did the police have all the evidence?” is a question.

Today’s Writing Tip

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There are several ways to say “said”, such as replied; asserted; stated; opined; declared, etc., but don’t overdo it; too much variety gets annoying as well. When expression is required, use substitutes to avoid adverbs, such as “he yelled” vs. “he said loudly.” The feeling behind it can also be described by how the character looks, his or her expression, or body language. Only a small portion of communicating is done via words.

Today’s Writing Tip

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Keep dialog realistic. Remember to use contractions or it could sound stilted.  Saying it aloud helps. If one or more characters have an accent, be sure to reflect that as well, even if your spell-checker gags a bit. You want your readers to be able to virtually hear conversations. You should create an impression of what their voices sound like as clearly as you do their appearance.

Writing Tip of the Day

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In long conversations, remind the reader who’s speaking from time to time. It’s annoying when you have to go back and figure it out. You can do this in a more creative manner than “he said” or “she said.” For example, have one of them make a face, pace the floor, roll their eyes, or scoff.