Thursday, February 17, 2011

"Said Bookism"


"James Blish told me I had the worst case of "said bookism" (that is, using every word except said to indicate dialogue). He told me to limit the verbs to said, replied, asked, and answered and only when absolutely necessary."
~ Anne McCaffrey

 


Raise your hand if you are guilty of "said bookism".  My hand is raised, high above my head. I am that irritating girl in the back, bobbing up and down and looking like a total dufus.
 
However, this is an area I really grew in as I revised my last MS. I'm much better at it than I was. I could be better still.

How severe is your case of "said bookism"?


24 comments:

Laura Pauling said...

That habit was slowly killed off so i don't struggle with it anymore. I feel guilty using whispered, which is okay. :)

Jen Daiker said...

I'm guilty *blushes* but it's slowly improving!

Margo Benson said...

Arm limply raised in the corner....think I'm improving, but at least am aware!

Old Kitty said...

About five years ago, I'd be jumping up and down with you raising my hands, feet,hair,anything in the air and screaming, me, me, me!! LOL!

These days - although not fully cured, I'm now able to slap myself if I get an attack of said bookisms....! Take care
x

Kelly said...

"Guilty!" I exclaimed.
"Me," I replied.
"Who,me?" I inquired.
:)

Karen Lange said...

Getting better. Working to keep tag lines from being too long too.
While wearing my shades of course.

Leah (aka Mary_not_Martha) said...

(totally off topic here) I love your new hair style!

Racquel Henry said...

I used to do that all the time, but I'm getting better, I think (loosens collar). I've been reading up on the actual craft of writing and "said bookism" is a topic that's always brought up when discussing dialogue. Great post and love the pink hair! :)

Laurel Garver said...

I've more often had the talking heads problem--going far too lean on dialogue tags and beats. I blame it on studying drama and taking theatre classes. Some of my rough drafts read more like scripts. LOL.

Catherine Denton said...

I used to be horrible at this. Every other line was something different. I've finally learned now and when I read old manuscripts it's distracting.

Susan R. Mills said...

Guilty as charged, but I got over the habit some time ago. Sometimes I still put another word in the place of said temporarily because I need to come back to it and show some emotion. But it comes out right away.

Tere Kirkland said...

I tend to over-use "spat", "muttered", or "argued".

Lots of people spitting, muttering and arguing in my books. ;)

Interesting quote. I love McCaffrey.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Well, I've been all over the map on this one, from "exclaimed!" to "muttered," to trying to leave the whole tag area blank like so:
"What do you mean?"
"You should know."
This only works if the characters are firmly established, and I don't think it's the best way to go about things.
However, I still like tags with action like:
"Let's take it outside," Clara said, gripping the handle of her blade.
Of course, too much of that gets old too. Sigh. Guilty.

Shari said...

I still use spat sometimes. I like it. Nothing else seems to fit, but I try to use said. I really do.

Talli Roland said...

I'm aware of the rule, but sometimes I choose to break it! :)

Megan K. Bickel said...

"Oh yes, I'm raising my hand too!" Megan admitted...confessed...shouted...
SAID.

Jen Chandler said...

Lock me up! I'm guilty, but I'm working on it. I promise!

Jennifer Hoffine said...

*raises hand, reluctantly* I went through a brief stint when revising my first book, but then I read better. Now I'm almost too much the other extreme (not enough dialogue tags of any kind). It's also kind of amazing that I used an adverb above as I'm a little extreme about NOT using them either.

Love Anne McCaffery also.

The Golden Eagle said...

It is . . . bad.
"How bad?" she queried.
"Really bad," she answered.

Susanna Leonard Hill said...

"I can take it to a whole new level!" she boasted loudly.

"Never mind simply going beyond 'said'," she continued breathlessly, "I can tack an annoying and utterly useless adverb to every manner of utterance as well"

"I've been told," she dropped her voice to a conspiratorial whisper, "that no one can beat me for wordiness!"

Carol Riggs said...

Um, yeah, guilty! Until my last novel or 2 anyway, when I realized I had to stop being so derned creative with my tags. LOL I do get bored with the old said...

Colene Murphy said...

GUILTY! Ahhh...makes us sound like better writers right?! To say things like "he huffed with a sarcastic tone"? RIGHT?! ;)

Patricia A. Timms said...

Hello! Fellow Crusader and new follwer.

I've been told, "Go ahead and use 'said' whenever you can. It's okay."

I've since gotten better at it. Haha! Great post!

Adriana said...

guilty in first drafts, alas. and then it takes a ton of editing to find them and eliminate. Often the problem can be solved by not having a "tag" at all, as long as it's clear who's speaking. For example,

Josh glanced down at the table. "What did you mean?"

Sylvia turned and walked out the door.


Adriana

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