Sunday, June 04, 2006

Said bookisms

In recent days, I've come to realize not all said bookisms (or, alternatively, saidisms) are made equal and some are worse offenders than others. Saidisms like 'request' or 'asked' or 'observed' are so much more easy to slip by the reader than $10 words like 'extrapolated', 'expositioned', 'caterwauled', and 'ejaculated' (the last one is particularly tiresome and unfortunate). I'm not particularly fond of 'rejoined' either. That being said, it's still not a good idea to use them; even once a page can be jarring. Plus, most of the time, using a word other than said is redundant when combined with the actual line of dialogue. To wit:

"I'm sorry," she apologized.

"I would like five tickets to the play," he requested.

"The grass is green and the sky is blue," she observed.

"How about we get married?" he proposed.

"I'll be home for dinner," she promised.

"I'm so sad," he wept.

"Don't take my diary!" she caterwauled.

You get the point. It's clunky writing, can often sound silly, and in the above examples, can fall victim to the 'tell not show' pothole. The characters' dialogue, for the most part, should state exactly what's going on in their heads at that moment and what their next action will be. There's no need to back it up almost immediately with a 'saidism'.

Here's a more in-depth article on the evils of 'said bookisms'.

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