|Please keep "said" alive!|
I wondered why students were being taught not to use it? This certainly was not anything I had learned in any of my writing courses.
I was informed that students are encouraged to use alternatives to make their writing more descriptive. "Show, don't tell!" Hmmm... I encourage my students to "show, don't tell" as well, but I've never focused on the attribution.
Should I? Does it really enhance your writing by using alternative synonyms? I don't think it does. In fact, I think it can make your writing worse.
I know this may upset many teachers out there who insist that getting rid of "said" makes for better writing, so here are my reasons why you should keep "said" alive:
2. "Said," like any other word, shouldn't be overused; but that doesn't mean it should be replaced. If you find yourself overusing the word "said," instead of replacing it with other words, see if it is even needed at all. For example, author Suzanne Collins demonstrates in The Hunger Games the technique (or rule?) of starting a new paragraph with each new speaker. While in some cases it may be necessary to attribute the quote to a certain speaker, in many cases an attribution can be left off:
|An example when attribution is not necessary in lines of dialogue.|
4. There's a reason why "said" works in writing: we tend to skip over the word when we're reading it. And that's OK! That is what makes the piece flow. If we begin to muck-up our writing with alternatives to "said," it disrupts that natural flow.
It IS OK to use alternatives to "said" with younger students.
Many children's books will use creative attributions in dialogue, and that's fine. The audience for those works are children who have very short attention spans and crave dramatic effects; using "exclaimed" and "growled" and "whimpered" will work perfectly for that audience. But unless you are having your students only write for their peers aged 2-10, please do their future English teachers a favor and keep "said" alive!