Dialogue Writing

Dialogue words: Other words for ‘said’ (and what to avoid)

Writing effective, compelling dialogue has multiple elements. It’s not only what characters say but how they say it that matters. Read other words for said as well as tips for keeping your dialogue natural and engrossing:

Writing effective, compelling dialogue has multiple elements. It’s not only what characters say but how they say it that matters. Read other words for said as well as tips for keeping your dialogue natural and engrossing:

What is a ‘dialogue tag’ (or speech tag)?

Tags (like name tags) identify.

In written conversation or a piece of dialogue, a tag is a group of words following quoted speech (e.g. ‘she said’). It identifies who spoke and/or the tone or emotion behind their speech. Words for ‘said’ may show or suggest:

  • Volume (e.g. yelled, shouted, bellowed, screamed, whispered)
  • Tone or pitch (e.g. shrieked, groaned, squeaked)
  • Emotion (e.g. grumbled, snapped, sneered, begged)
  • Intent (e.g. suggested, asked, demanded)

The connotations of dialogue tags are important. It would be strange, for example, for a character to ‘sneer’ the words ‘I love you’, since the word ‘sneer’ connotes contempt rather than affection. Unless their words ran counter to how they truly felt. Even then, this would maybe need additional, clarifying narration.

Given that there are countless verbs that can take the place of ‘said,’ should you simply find a stronger, more emotive one and use that?

Not always. ‘He said’ and ‘she said’ are often preferable because they do not draw the reader’s attention to the fact they are reading written dialogue. They let characters’ words do the emoting. ‘Said’ is the most common dialogue tag. 

Read more in our complete guide to dialogue.

Here are some tips for using dialogue tags such as said and synonyms for said well:

How to use said and its synonyms well:

  1. Use all dialogue tags sparingly
  2. Use said or other tags only where necessary
  3. Show how people speak using action and gesture

1. Use all dialogue tags sparingly

The problem with dialogue tags is they draw attention to the author’s hand. The more we read ‘he said’ and ‘she said’, the more we’re aware of the author creating the dialogue.

Novel writing coach Romy Sommer says of dialogue:

Keep it as tight as possible, and move as quickly as possible into the purpose of the conversation.

Romy Sommer in ‘Writing dialogue: What to avoid’, webinar preview here.

Whenever you read the author attributing who said what, it reminds us a narrative convention is being used.

Compare these two versions of the same conversation:

“I told you already,” I said, glaring.

“Well I wasn’t listening, was I!” he said.

“Apparently not,” he replied.

Now compare this to the following:

I glared at him. “I told you already.”

  “Well I wasn’t listening, was I!”

  “Apparently not.”

For some authors, it’s a matter of stylistic preference.

Even so, it’s hard to argue that the first version is better than the second. In the second, making glaring an action rather than tethering it to the dialogue gives us a stronger sense of the scene. A stronger sense of dialogue’s ‘back and forth’.

Because it’s clear the glaring first-person ‘I’ is the character speaking at first, we don’t need to add ‘I said’. The strength of the exclamation mark in the second character’s reply makes any dialogue tag showing emotion (e.g. ‘he snapped’) unnecessary. Because it’s on a new line, and responds to what the other said, we know it’s a reply from context.

Similarly, in the first speaker’s retort, we don’t need a tag telling us his tone (that it’s curt, sarcastic, or hostile). The brevity, the fact it’s only two words, conveys his tone. We can infer the character is still mad.

Using dialogue tags sparingly allows your reader the pleasure of inferring and imagining.

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Using dialogue tags sparingly allows your reader the pleasure of inferring and imagining. Keep in mind that they do have a purpose in writing, and often can be used to break up long lines of dialogue. 

The reader gets to fill in the blank spaces, prompted more subtly by the clues you leave (an exclamation mark or a pointed, cross remark).

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2. Use said or other tags only where necessary

The word ‘said’, like ‘asked’, does not tell you anything about the emotion behind a character’s words. Often, this is preferable, letting the character’s emotion or tone show in their precise choice of words, phrasing, movement (more on this below) or gestures.

In conversation between characters, alternatives for said can tell the reader:

  • The individual emotional or mental states of the conversants
  • The degree of conflict or ease in the conversation
  • What the relationship is like between characters (for example, if one character always snaps at the other this will show that the character is short-tempered and perhaps unkind towards the other)
Other words for said word cloud

Here are dialogue words you can use instead of ‘said’, categorised by the kind of emotion or scenario they convey:


Shouted, bellowed, yelled, snapped, cautioned, rebuked.


Consoled, comforted, reassured, admired, soothed.


Shouted, yelled, babbled, gushed, exclaimed.


Whispered, stuttered, stammered, gasped, urged, hissed, babbled, blurted.


Declared, insisted, maintained, commanded.


Sighed, murmured, gushed, laughed.


Cried, mumbled, sobbed, sighed, lamented.


Jabbed, sneered, rebuked, hissed, scolded, demanded, threatened, insinuated, spat, glowered.

Making up:

Apologised, relented, agreed, reassured, placated, assented.


Teased, joked, laughed, chuckled, chortled, sniggered, tittered, guffawed, giggled, roared.


Related, recounted, continued, emphasized, remembered, recalled, resumed, concluded.

Despite there being many other words for said, remember to use dialogue tags and ‘said’ synonyms only where necessary:

  • Is it clear who’s speaking? (E.g. There are only two characters in the scene and the first to speak is clear). If yes, you don’t need a tag
  • Too many tags make your dialogue start to feel like a compendium of emotive speech-verbs. Use colourful dialogue tags occasionally, for emphasis. They’re the salt and spice in dialogue, not the whole meal
  • Use emotive dialogue tags for the peaks and valleys of a scene. If a character screams or declares every line, your reader may become irritated by the constant visibility of the author’s hand

Over at The Write Practice, Kellie McGann takes a look at dialogue tags and how to use them effectively in your writing.

Dialogue words and actions in dialogue - Jerome Stern

3. Show how people speak using action and gesture

One problem we often see in beginners’ dialogue is that all the emotion is crammed into either spoken words or dialogue tags.

Characters who never move or gesture in dialogue may read a little like talking heads in jars (like the satirical preserved famous figures in the sci-fi comedy Futurama).

Richard Nixon – a talking head in a jar in Futurama

Your characters likely do have bodies, so don’t be afraid to use them. Compare these examples:

“That’s not what you said yesterday,” she said, her voice implying she was retreating, withdrawing.

“Well I hadn’t thought about it yet. The truth is now that I’ve had time I see that maybe it’s not going to work out. But let’s not be hasty,” he said, clearly wanting to control her retreat, too.

Now compare:

“That’s not what you said yesterday…” She hesitated, turned and walked to the window.

“Well I hadn’t thought about it yet.” He stepped closer. “The truth is now that I’ve had time I see that maybe it’s not going to work out. But let’s not be hasty.” He placed his hand on the small of her back.

In the second example, the actual dialogue is interspersed with setting. How the characters engage with the setting (the woman turning to face the window, for example) reveals their emotions mid-dialogue.

These are also termed ‘action beats’: a short sentence that describes what the character is doing. They can occur before, during, or after an exchange between characters. 

Movement and gesture conveys similar feelings to the first dialogue example. Yet there’s a clearer sense of proximity and distance, of two characters dancing around each other’s words, thoughts, feelings and personal space. It is appropriate too, to the situation (the end of an intimate relationship).

Vary the way you show who’s speaking in your dialogue. Use emotive other words for said to season characters’ conversations. Yet seasoning shouldn’t overpower substance. Use the content of what characters say, their movement, body language, pauses, and silences, to create deeper, more layered exchanges.

Join a concise, self-study four-week course to learn how to write dialogue that builds character and plot without needing 500 words for said.

By Jordan

Jordan is a writer, editor, community manager and product developer. He received his BA Honours in English Literature and his undergraduate in English Literature and Music from the University of Cape Town.

438 replies on “Dialogue words: Other words for ‘said’ (and what to avoid)”

Sorry. This is totally wrong. Said and asked disappear in the readers mind. Adding synonyms to those brings the reader out of the narrative. Everything I’ve read on dialogue states not to do this. Make the dialogue show what the character is saying. Or have the character do something.
“It’s just that.” He shoved his hands in his pockets. “We’ve been fighting a lot.”

It may be a differnent teaching in other countries, but here in the states every book I’ve read says to only use said. And ask where appropriate.

Like every single bit of writing advice that tells you to ALWAYS do x or NEVER do y it needs to be taken in moderation. There are times when it is appropriate to use something other than said or asked, much of the time it is not. The trick is learning to recognize those times.

Yes, the trick is to choose the best possible way to get the meaning across to the reader while considering genre expectations and not relying on any one technique or repeating too much. Don’t be afraid to break rules and don’t ignore them completely either.

That’s spot-on, Conrad. The way dialogue is crafted should fall naturally on the ear since it is mimicking speech and sometimes tags are a distraction which is why many authors do away with them entirely and use actions more, as Alice suggested. It’s interesting how everyone has such a strong opinion on this subject. If you are going to use tags at all, it is useful to be aware of the many alternatives and the subtle and not-so-subtle connotations they carry, at least.

I have to agree with you, Alice, and thanks for pointing that out. Reading all of those different attributions (chortled, shouted, exclaimed, replied, inquired, ejaculated, etc.) in a text makes me close the book and pick up another. It’s such a distraction from the forward momentum of the story. Furthermore, the problem is exactly that using these other attributions constitutes TELLING, which is just the opposite of the “show, don’t tell” rule of reader engagement.

And agreed with Conrad, as well, that everything must be taken in moderation, but the ultimate goal of every rule (or of breaking a rule) has to be keeping the reader engaged in the story. The first second the reader disengages from the story, you should have followed that rule (or not broken it in the first place). Attributions like these cause me to disengage from any writing.

Thanks for raising those points, Eleanore. Sometimes telling is useful and even necessary (as Ursula K. Le Guin argues in an interesting article on her personal website) but you’re right that dialogue tags, if used excessively (and for some readers, at all) can be a deterrent. A lot depends on frequency of use, genre (some genres are more amenable to dialogue tags than others) and so on.

Thanks for your reply! I have to admit that after having posted my thoughts yesterday, I remembered that when I’m reading books written by authors like Austen and Dickens, I don’t mind the varied attributions so much. Somehow, stylistically, things like “ejaculated” and “replied” and “murmured” seem to fit better in that kind of historical, sweeping literary style.

I did have another thought on the subject, in general. As a freelance editor for fiction writers, I’ve seen a lot of the use of words like “sighed” and “laughed” and “chuckled” (etc.) in dialogue (e.g., “I can’t understand it,” she sighed). Those words in particular drive me crazy. Has anyone ever actually tried to “chuckle” speech? Or “sigh” words? You can sigh before or after speaking, but not as speech. Similarly, you can laugh before, in the middle of, or after having spoken, but you can’t laugh speech. Perhaps it’s more those attributions to which I find myself *really* objecting! 🙂

Hi Alice – thanks for contributing a different viewpoint. I think it’s more a question of repetition perhaps – after the tenth ‘asked’ or ‘said’ in a scene, it starts to stand out and become a little tedious for some. Many literary writers do away with dialogue tags entirely, possibly partly for this reason, relying on context and the reader’s interpretation of other markers (e.g. characters’ differing personalities and ways of expressing themselves) to work out who is saying what. You’re right that actions are excellent for subtly conveying tone and emotion. A lot does depend on the genre and the age of the intended audience, as younger readers might not have quite as variegated perception of what these different bodily gestures suggest.

Thanks for stimulating debate on this subject. It’s quite a subjective topic.

I agree with Alice. I once read a book in which the author used every word BUT “said” and “asked”… and I *hated* that book. The writing came off as amateur, and it seemed as though the author had done this just to sound smarter. Ironically, in most cases, the tag didn’t even make sense, because it didn’t actually have anything to do with vocalization, nor do many of the suggestions above. And it’s true — words like this detract from the dialogue… Because that’s all I remember about the book are those horrible tags. This is, in my opinion, lazy writing. There are much stronger ways to convey what a person is thinking, doing, feeling, etc.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the subject, Krysten. It is a fine line between using dialogue tags in places to avoid ambiguity of expression and overusing them and coming across amateurish, as you say. Alice’s suggestion of using actions instead of tags is another discussion but is a very effective way to keep the author’s presence in the text less obtrusive.

yeah, I agree with the others. I don’t think this is great advice. Favoring colorful alternatives to ‘said’ and ‘asked’ is just distracting and comes off as amateurish in my opinion. What trumps everything is clarity in the reader’s mind. Don’t use ‘said’ and then go on to describe how the character pounded the desk and his words echoed until they rang in everyone’s ears–use ‘shouted’. But for heaven’s sake, don’t use words like mused, sighed, and cajoled just for the sake of changing it up and keeping it fresh. I don’t think there’s a great risk of word fatigue if you use ‘said’. Better yet, use nothing at all if you can get away with it.

Good advice, Matt. It does depend (as you say) on whether using a dialogue tag will avoid unnecessary and cliched action description or whether it is better to make actions or simple word choice convey the shifting emotions, tensions and resolutions in a piece of dialogue. I think avoiding ‘gimmicky’ use of any device or technique is always wise. Thanks for contributing your perspective to the discussion.

You don’t need to use “asked” because if the dialogue ends with a question mark, it’s obvious. I agree with Alice on this. “Said” disappears for the reader, whereas “grumbled,” etc. jumps out. Let the dialogue and action show the character’s state of mind. Tags help the reader keep straight who is talking if there are multiple people in the scene. But you can do away with many of them by just using action instead of the word “said.”

You both raise a good point, Diane. Dialogue tags are definitely controversial. As always, it’s up to the writer to do as she (or he) feels is best. There will be readers who like emphatic dialogue tags and readers who loathe them. A lot depends on genre, but you’re right that they can draw too much attention to the construction/craftedness of the text.

Also, it’s not necessary to use a dialogue tag after every line of dialogue. Once the writer has set up who is speaking, she can skip several lines of dialogue before adding another tag, which at that point can be action. There’s a fine balance between too many tags and too few.

You’re right there. A lot of this is a matter of balance. Dialogue is something where many trip up because it’s a constant measuring and deciding between getting the natural patterns of speech right (so that the reader’s ear doesn’t vehemently disagree) and making choices around the fact that it is given to the reader textually, not aurally.

Good point, Jeri! I’m loving the spirited debate everyone is having here. Of course everything should be used in moderation, and I think there are certain genres where colourful dialogue tags are more the norm (and norms must of course be questioned and examined) than others. Thanks for your perspective.

I’m glad to see someone finally come out against the fallacy that “said/asked” are better because they “disappear” in the test and don’t “jolt” the reader. After years of only using beats (which take up much more space) or inserting descriptions of tone while desperately trying not to be cliche, I’ve found that bookisms and adverbs get the correct intent across with a minimum of words or fuss. The tag “he asked sharply” will not jolt the reader. It will allow the reader to picture and hear the scene correctly — and enjoy the novel more. Great post!

Thank you, Lexa. Glad you enjoyed reading it. I like that everyone commenting has strong feelings one way or the other on the topic of dialogue tags. I think it all depends on genre. Definitely in more ‘literary’ fiction obtrusive dialogue tags are less common. I think they can richness, especially for younger readers. So much depends on audience.

I was taught the opposite. Most craft books I’ve read say “said” is invisible, while “fancy tags” call attention to themselves. So we’re supposed to use such devices sparingly, only when the way things are said isn’t implicit in the words or context. Some (Elmore Leonard) go even further, and claim no tag but said should EVER be used, which seems excessive in the other direction. I was also taught that tags that can’t actually be spoken, like “stormed” or “coughed” are signs of amateur writing.

Having said this, I think “florid” tags can work for some voices or styles. I don’t think Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy would have been as as funny without its “gushing” doors and “opining” androids.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, E.L. You’re right that tags that can’t be said or voiced in some way are not ideal. At the same time you’re also right that it’s a stylistic/genre matter. A lot of fantasy writers (particularly those writing for YA/middle school audiences) use more florid, as you say, tags. A lot is down to taste, but there are some (ab)uses that are more commonly disliked than others.

Great series – Douglas Adams is hilarious.

Thanks, Bridget for this update.Certainly, the speech about the couple as has been rewritten in the update comes across as very well written. It beats the other two. It has the quality of clarity as it is more vivid. Of course, it is also more interesting. I’ll go for this style any day.

I been reading your “dialogues” post. I write in spanish. And for be honest, the advise we receive from people is used “said” not particullary another words. Why? the reason they explaine is when you write “he asked, he questioned, he explained… etc., people made a kind of stop, because is habituated to read “said” as a common word, and this turns “invisible” and people can read easy; use a different word can be a extra efford from the author to “look smart”. (They says).
For me, that explanation does not have to much sense. For me, if a word is necessary, you must to used it, but not just to “delete/change” the words “said/asked/answered”. And you can explaine with another words which character is doing. For me, if you read words (dialogue), is because someone is speaking…

I guess the rules are different between spanish and english writing style. I tried do not use just Said/asked when a character talks. But some word in spanish are not so common to use as: “replicar” (replay) “expresar” (express). In this case, in spanish is not “good way to write” when you “reconfirm” a statement (?).
“When?”, he asked.
“Tomorrow”, she answered.
In those cases, you even can omit the words asked/said.
For that, this point is really interesting for me, see the difference in the style in both lenguages. In spanish, if you wanted express something, just take off the obvious thing, and the example dialogue can turns in:
“When?”, he mused.
“Tomorrow”, she complained and walked away.

Its good see another point of view.

The varation on traslated book, can defines, why in our spanish “original english books” are so different. But, the fact I learn is when you write, you must to use the balance, the dialogues are great if you use the right words, do it too much “florid” if is a neutral narrator, can be a desaster, as if you use a “plain” (said) if the narrator is a erudit, first witness narrator. For me, each narrator will ask always a good balance, not ignore or abuse with some particular words.

P.S.: Sorry for my english mistakes, is not my mother lenguage.

Thank you for this detailed input – it’s interesting to hear your perspective as a Spanish speaker. You’re right that the dialogue tag is better omitted in instances such as your example, of course. Tags aren’t usually necessary when it’s clear who is speaking and the tone/feeling behind their words.

in a novel im working on I wanted some good words for awnsering questions that another character asked. I noticed there was only persisted. Am I missing something? If not what are some good words to use in my situation.

Hi SC. It depends on the nature of the conversation. If the character asks a silly question, you could use ‘scoffed’ or ‘laughed’ for the reply. If you want to create a little awkwardness (say, for example, the questioning character is being too probing/personal), you could use ‘she paused’ or ‘she hesitated’ (more a descriptor of the flow of conversation than explicit statement of how the character is speaking). I hope these give you some ideas!

Thanks a bunch! It helped me a lot with a story I have to pass to my teacher and she was delighted of my work! You’re the best!

I’m the worst…People at my school called me a stupid kid, four eyes asshole, that loser who is obsessed with stupid kiddy (anime) shows, and that guy is the worst writing in the planet, tell him that go home and kill yourself…

I don’t know who am I anymore… 🙁

It’s ok I’m writing my first book (not for publish yet) and I made so many grammar mistakes. Just keep practicing and you’ll do great at it!

I feel bad for you. At my school, most people accept me for being a person that likes anime (or not a lot who complains about it). I also have lots of friends also who like anime and lots who aren’t a fan. I guess I got lucky with my location. Hope you find others who share the same interest as you. But I reckon you can use your experience to write a book as a good book relies on the author’s experience.

Don’t worry, the world is a big place. Sooner or later you’ll meet some1 with the same interest.

man, I cried when I read that. My Narrative has Miku Hatsune in it( don’t know if I spelled that right, though) LOL

They’re just dumb kids who probably can’t write a paragraph as good as ur stories. Plus, 4 eyes is better than 2

I knew there were people who used this to write on wattpad. I love wattpad to be honest, I’m writing a story as well. Although my story aren’t being published because I’m not comfortable yet. Good luck with your story! uwu

I’m in the same situation as you. Wattpad is amazing. I’m also writing a story but I don’t have enough confidence to post it yet. I get petrified when someone says something really bad about my things. I’m sure every will feel bad when someone does that, so make sure you only post nice comments and appropriate feedback. ^-^

Hey you guys, I’m a Wattpad author myself, and I just reached my 20 followers point, actually 🙂 You shouldn’t be afraid of the haters, let them say what they want to say! I bet half of them couldn’t even work up the courage to write anything at all! Wattpad is a friendly community of people, there’s only a few haters. Most people will encourage you to follow your passion! And it’s no big deal if you’re just not comfortable, though I’m sure it’s more amazing than you take credit for 😀

P.S. Gods, I really don’t want to sound like I’m advertising, but my user is @Awesomeandscary123 if y’all are interested in reading my works. Always up to you, though 🙂

What I am doing is writing the full story and then publishing it all at once so that my readers don’t have to wait and wait for another chapter.

I don’t agree with your advice. Said is often used because it’s unobstrubsive, so that the reader will focus more on the dialogue.

Thank you for the feedback, Iva. It is a a contentious topic, but you’re right about ‘said’ being less obtrusive. Often no dialogue tag at all is even less obtrusive, however, as often the reader can infer from speech marks and context who is speaking, making it unnecessary to use ‘said’. Yet everyone has their preferences. Essentially the advice is not to use ‘growled’ or ‘whispered’ every other line. Thank you for weighing in.

thank you, my teacher doesn’t allow the usage of ‘said’ every time someone speaks. So now my writing is fantastic thanks to this article. So, again thank you so very much. 🙂

These words are great, but I can’t really find any words for people/things that are just talking in a normal tone, without much expression.

Hi Asgore – that’s where a simple ‘said’ here and there where tags are necessary would be good. My advice would be to put some expression in all the same, as if there’s no expressive quality at all to the dialogue the characters could seem strangely uninterested in the conversation at hand. You can also focus more on their surrounds or movements if these elements show more of the scene’s tone and mood or purpose than the conversation itself. Hope that helps!

Very helpful, ive lost count as to how many times ive refered to this while writing my novel. Thank you so much

Regarding dialogue tags: This is exactly the opposite of the advice most editors will give you when you’re publishing your novel. In fact, when I published my first novel, my editors made me go back through my entire manuscript and weed out all of these kinds of words and replace them with “said” and “asked” in almost every instance. Said and asked are the words you should use most of the time. Alternate words like the ones you listed above should be used sparingly, unless there is a good reason (i.e. whispering, etc). However, I do agree with your points about action and gesture, generally.

Genre and market do come into the equation too. For example, YA readers might be more forgiving (as they were of J.K. Rowling) of ‘fruitier’ dialogue tags 🙂 It depends on a number of factors but I prefer the minimalist approach myself and using gesture and staging more to attribute dialogue than tags, personally. There’s never a ‘one size fits all approach’ so it all depends. Thanks for reading and engaging!

This was very helpful! I always found ‘said’ so bland and boring, I realised I mentioned that word way too often in my writings (As well as Responded,Replied etc.) I plan on using these tips 🙂

You can use said for the halfway- beginning, but then you can use the other more advanced words, it will make your story more interesting and more suprising. At first, they’ll probably think your a not-so-good writer, then you can show them you are one. Note : This is just an advice.

I use this all the time when I create stories with Wattpad. It really helps! In fact I think I’m getting used to these, so now I can memorize these words! Thank you.

I’m writing a zombie story on Wattpad. My account is KingKawaiiKiwi, if you search it in the Wattpad search bar, you’ll find my vampire story (which I just might discontinue) and my new zombie apocalypse story.

This is great and I totally agree. I have always found it hard when reading to know who is saying what until after they have said it, which just takes you away from the moment.

You’re right about that, Mandy – so important it’s clear to the reader who’s speaking so they don’t get distracted from the content of the dialogue itself.

Thank you so much, was a great website helped a lot with my assignments. My teacher was astound with my work.

That’s fantastic to hear, Susan. Good luck with your studies further! Thanks for reading.

Thank you so much. It is so simple and easy to apply. Sometimes I hit a roadblock trying to explain my characters’ feelings at certain moments. This is so helpful.

I agree with using tags sparingly, strongly disagree with using the “said” tag more sparingly than others. The word itself may not add color or personality, but that’s the dialogue’s job.

Thank you for this feedback! It’s not that the ‘said’ tag should be used more sparingly than others necessarily but rather that you don’t have to attribute every line. For example:

Cara saw her mother was limping up the driveway.
‘What the heck happened, mom?’
‘Fell down the stairs at gym… don’t laugh!’

Here you don’t need ‘Cara said’ or ‘her mom said’ because the first line of narration sets up the context for each character’s words. So ‘said’ should be used more where there’s possible ambiguity regarding who spoke. I hope that clarifies a little 🙂

“Thank you so much” Nicholas applauded. ” I am writing a story WRITE now! The main characters name is Kane.” He continued. “Oh! Here he is! He’s a little shy, being a werewolf and all.” Nic exclaimed

“NIC!” Kane was surprised at his mess up. “You can’t just tell everyone! But… erm, thank you…” Kane nervously thanked.

“And guess what!” Nic proclaimed “I’m only a middle schooler!”

Hi WolfyBoi, that’s quite a few dialogue tags! I’d particularly advise against using an adverb ending ‘ly’ plus a verb, as that really draws attention to the tag and the ‘writtenness’ of the speech. You could use a gesture to show Kane’s nerves instead, e.g. ‘Kane fidgeted at his desk.’ Keep writing 🙂

Thank you, I really appreciate your reply. My book is much further along than it was 3 months ago. I have this website to thank. I recently got into dnd and I couldn’t help but add him to the story. However, I am switching between medieval fantasy, and modern fantasy, tunic vs hoodie amiright? What do you think I should do to help decide? Thank you.

Hi Wolfy, it’s a pleasure. I’m glad to hear you’ve made progress in this time 🙂 Take my opinion with a grain of salt, but I would personally go with modern (medieval is such a saturated market with the likes of GoT and other big series). At the same time, readers still love dragons, warriors and all things mythological, so it depends. My hunch is modern but go with which era you feel most excited about, I’d say. The advantage of modern is it’s easier to create a niche that’s all your own (because it doesn’t have as many standard elements/tropes).

OMG!!! This is amazing! Now I don’t have to get stucked when i’m writing my short story for ELA. thank you so much!!!

OMG. I was in such a bind before I found this! Seriously, I was like, “I can’t keep making people interrupt and drop the phone every time they finish talkling.” LOL You… Just rescued me from hell in the third chapter of my favorite movie of all time!


I’m glad to hear that, and you’re right – variety (coupled with good sense and taste and moderation) is key.

Thank you, I’m really bad at coming up with different words, and this has helped me a whale load. 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Do you have list of different ways to say “asked” like you did here for “said”?

Because My struggle is my main words are asked, questioned, wondered, inquired . So yeah. I guess I’m asking for more colorful words for that.

What you have for “said” is helpful 🙂

Hi Brad, thank you for your question! ‘Asked’ is probably best (using ‘wondered’ as a tag might read strangely, especially in a conversation context, since ‘wondering’ is usually something we do to ourselves rather than in communicating with others). I’d say ‘asked’ is the most versatile, as you can imply the tone (e.g. one of wonder) in the actual words said. For example, wondering or incredulity: “Can you believe Miss A gave us all that homework!?” I asked Jay.’

I hope that helps!

You saved my life! I write fanfiction on Wattpad, I needed this! My Wattpad—> TheFoxInTheShadows

This helped me a lot! i was having trouble with the dialogues in my story sounding a bit bland. Thank you.

Hi Colour! Thank you for reading it, we’re glad to have helped 🙂 Good luck with revising your story further.

Hi Lovealot, thanks for asking If the underlying emotion is irritability, ‘snapped’ is a common acceptable tag. Otherwise a simple ‘said’ is always a good neutral go-to, with the words themselves supplying tone. I hope this helps!

I feel like there should be more scenarios that involve more words to describe dialogue. Such as an intro, where the character says hello. Or instances that require a much larger vocabulary to describe what is happening, not every situation where you want comedy/humor should you say Teased, joked, laughed, chuckled, chortled, sniggered, tittered, guffawed, giggled, roared. Otherwise it’s a great place to expand your vocabulary and/or get advice to write a great story. Just a critique.

Hi SpartanISO, thanks for reading and sharing your critique, we’ll keep it in mind when we update this article. Happy writing 🙂

I was about to. But I realized I could get copyrighted, so I decided to make an OG vampire story. It’s the second result when you search, The Vampire Experience.

At my school, Wattpad is blocked on school internet filters, for “mature” and “forums.”

SAME! I’m writing a Loki one tho. If you’d be interested it’s called “Mirrors and Magic” my @ is @CrazyPerson4967.

I’m writing an avengers fanfic too haha. My account is APPOJUICE and the story is called ‘Winx Club’ if anyone wants to read

I’m trying to write a Naruto fanfic UwU. I’m righting on Grammarly and getting words from here! my account name is called Nightshade_Kuro and the story is going to be named Someone Lost

lol actually I’m writing a short story (OG) just for me, but I might post it on wattpad when I’m done now that I think about it

Uhm…okay yes. But I’m also a published writer. I just happen to enjoy shooting writer’s block down with a powerful fanfic. I actually looked for this post since I’m writing in English which is clearly not my native language hahaha. Anyroad, best wishes to every single Wattpad writer here!! If you need me I’ll be word spinting in my account CeciliaPerazaArias 😛

Anyone on this for Wattpad? My story is the second result when you search, The Vampire Experience. (Unfinished!)

Edit: first result, but I’m writing 2 different books now, so I might just tag it as discontinued.

We’re glad to hear this, Sara! Good luck for your contest and thanks for reading our blog 🙂

Really appreciative of this blog piece. I was trying to wrap my mind around descriptive emotions and this helps shatter my writer’s block. Thank you.

I’m writing because it’s fun when your fantasies come true even if it’s just words. This helped me a lot thanks
2020 here

Hi. I’m also a wattpad writer. I only started writing on wattpad recently but if you have a chance, would you please check out my story called: The Alpha, rejected his mate? My username is aaliyahisaas2003.

im writing a descendants oc fanfic
about Shan Yu’s son called the Warriors son if anyone wants to read it
this site really helps thans

I have just started writing because I have so many stories going on in my head and I knew it was time I put these fantasies into words. This blog really helped a bunch, especially as a young writer!

Thank you! I was looking for something like these to help me with my writing class. This is really going to be of great use from now on. Thanks!

This was so helpful, I don’t know what I would have done without this extra information. I’m a Jr in high school and I ‘m writing a narrative and I’m tired of saying “He said”, “She said” it’s getting repetitive.

Hey Aries, that’s great to hear. It can be repetitive. Remember that when its clear who’s speaking (e.g. when one character already named in the scene replies to the only other character in the scene) you can leave them out. Have a good weekend.

omg me too, I’m writing a narrative right now and my teacher said she would take points off if we continuously said “he said, she said”

Hey thank you a lot I am doing a English paper right now and i needed a word for a determined person and I found it right here clear as day.

This is great! An amazing novel to read for this is Catch-22. Joseph Heller came up with about a million ways to say “said,” and it really helps you hear each character’s individual voice.

Loved this so much 🙂 Perfect for me as I was writing a college essay and had some serious word block. Thank you so much

Hello Jordan
This is awesome, but I didn’t find what I wanted I needed. It’s a different word for said and the context is leaving somewhere. Could you please tell me it. Thanks, Sherbek

Hi Sherbek,

Thank you. When you say ‘the context is leaving somewhere’, do you mean it’s a dialogue tag word indicating a character is leaving? I’d suggest using an action tag instead, e.g. “OK, sayonara, bye, whatever.” He made air quotes on ‘whatever’ and slouched out of the room, trying to look as hip and disinterested as possible.’

The benefit of an action tag is you can get quite specific about the way a person leaves. Saying ‘he farewelled’ or finding a similar way to squish a sense of departure into the dialogue tag would stick out and be less effective, for sure. I hope this is helpful.

Hey thanks for the help I’m 12 and I’m trying to write a novel about hell’s creatures invading a small town but i was tricky to think of elaborate words in the beginning

That sounds like a fun story scenario, Asher. I hope you’re finding it easier to find the right words.

It’s beneficial for my new fantasy novel, I’m a newbie writer, and I really had a hard time dialoguing. Thank you for this.

This is extremely helpful, but I couldn’t find what I was looking for! I’m writing for school (and a little for fun) and I don’t know what to write. The quote is
“Where are you going?”
and it’s a child speaking respectfully to an elder. Do you think you might know what I’m looking for?

Hi Michael, thank you! I’m sorry you couldn’t find precisely what you’re looking for. Do you mean the quote is a prompt? If you’re trying to write a story based on that quote I’d suggest brainstorming about where the elder is going, and involving the child in the object of their departure (for example, are they coming back? Is the object of their departure something relating to the child, that they’re perhaps intending to do something for them?).

Here’s a blog post on finding ideas that may help!

When you use dialogue such as: he teased, he smirked or he laughed. Are these action beats with periods and capital H’s?

Great question, Connie. It would depend whether it is being used to describe the voice of the character immediately following speech or whether it comprises a separate action. Compare:

He teased her mercilessly, until she turned beet red. “I can’t believe you said Japan is larger than Australia in the quiz.”

This is an action tag, the action being complete in a sentence apart from the dialogue it characterizes.

Compare to:

“I can’t believe you said Japan is larger than Australia in the quiz,” he teased. Here, the teasing action serves as a dialogue tag as it’s describing the speech without being a separate sentence. You could also have:

“I can’t believe you said Japan is larger than Australia in the quiz.” He teased her mercilessly, until she turned beet red.

This is the same as the first action tag, of course, with the action simply coming after the dialogue. This would be incorrect:

“I can’t believe you said Japan is larger than Australia in the quiz.” He said [or teased].

Here the ‘he said’ is describing the manner of the man’s speech (you can see it more clearly than with ‘he teased’, as this could be a complete action fragment).

Dialogue tags should always have a comma preceding them as they’re part of the previous line. Just the same as you wouldn’t have ‘He ran. Fast heading for the train’ but ‘He ran fast, heading for the train’.

I hope this helps to clarify!

Thank you so much for this Jordan! I’m doing a retelling of a long movie. Over 10 pages I have forgotten to use more specific and more advanced vocabulary instead of “Said” or “Asked”

This helped me a lot so keep doing what you’re doing your good at it, you help thousands of kids like me! =)

Hi Nate, thank you, it’s a pleasure. That sounds a fun project. I’d add the caveat that ‘said’ is often the least obtrusive option. Action tags and making the content of the speech itself convey the feeling and character are other alternatives to using very exotic tags.

Good luck with your movie retelling!

Thank you so much for this! Im writing a story in my middle school and my teacher always says “Said is Dead!” This helped me to get a good grade!

Hi Trixibelle, we’re always glad to help here. Congratulations on your good grade! Thank you for reading our articles.

Very helpful. Thank you, Jordan. Per Connie Parker’s question about “teased”, would “laughed” be treated the same way? I’m thinking it would, but I’ve had a couple of people tell me you can’t “laugh” dialogue. Do you agree?

Hi Keith, it’s a pleasure, thank you for reading. It’s a tricky one, since I would say you can laugh to a degree while speaking (or a laugh could interrupt your speech). Personally, I would lean more towards using an action tag and making the sense of amusement evident in the speaker’s words themselves. For example:

“You mean to say … he actually … seriously?” Laughing, unable to finish a sentence, she wiped her eyes and tried to suppress another fit of giggles.

Thanks for writing this article, it helped me greatly. I have a question. If I were to write an emotional ‘scene’, is is fine if I use a lot of different words than “said”? Or should I limit the amount of words that express emotion?

It’s a pleasure, Gillian. Great question.

I would say try to make the words being spoken themselves convey the bulk of the emotion, so that the tag doesn’t need to do that much ‘heavy lifting’. One could also use action tags to convey emotion, particularly loaded gestures. For example, “I’m not going!” She slammed the door so hard the crack snaking from the doorframe must have grown an inch. Varying devices will keep dialogue from sticking out as overly ‘written’, making the scene more immersive.

This helped a lot! I am in the middle of writing a book, but I have a little problem. Even though my problem isn’t associated with the topic of this blog, I wanted to ask: How can I make any battle scenes in my book seem more natural? I feel like I have been adding too many battle scenes that end too quickly.. (3 battle scenes throughout 13 pages) Can you maybe refer an article or give me advice?

Hi Brianna,

Thank you for asking. I’d suggest making the words your character says happy or sad in themselves and then perhaps using an action tag (as adverbs can be weak in effect). For example:

“So I guess we can’t go to the beach this year?” She sat with her shoulders slumped, frowning.

Or “It’s so good to be here again.” She ran down to the shoreline, shrieking when an unexpected wave raced for her feet still in shoes and ran back laughing to where we had stood minutes before.

So putting the despondent or joyful tone into a mixture of tone and action will help to give your dialogue the overall emotional character. Think about how you can weave in setting too at times, so that dialogue also helps to describe where your characters are at this point in time while they converse.

Hi Scarrlett, thank you for sharing that. Perhaps ‘gasped’? Also try to find the words in the dialogue that convey those emotions, and perhaps gestures too (e.g. a character suddenly turning their head with a frown on their face, or giving a reaction-based start. Good luck!

Hi Ben, thank you! A belated Merry Christmas to you too, and a Happy New Year. Stay safe and may 2021 bring many blessings and inspirations.

Hi Malyiah, thank you for your question! What you’ve used there is good.

You could also use ellipses (e.g. “That went well … Maybe we could make it using the other recipe?”). Using ellipses to show someone thinking or to imply a pause can be used subtly with specific surrounding words to create a specific tone. For example, if a character has worn a questionable outfit to a formal event, you could use this to create a questioning/’shade-throwing’ tone: “I see you dressed … for the occasion.”

I hope this is helpful. You could also use action tags to show gestures or movements that suggest questioning (e.g. ‘She peered into the pot and gave her sister a doubtful look. “Maybe we could make it using the other recipe?”).

I am making a story, and every now and then I have the character talk to him self, (e.g ‘since when has he listened to someone?’ Zenitsu thought.) What other word can I use other than thought?

Hi there! One great option is to use an action tag like you would in dialogue. For example ‘Since when have I listened to anyone?’ Zenitsu frowned. Or, ‘Since when have I listened to anyone?’ Zenitsu half turned, ready to storm out.

One thing to remember is it should be in first person rather than third (since a person would typically think in first person when referring to themslves). It’s also conventional practice to put thoughts (if it isn’t the character talking aloud) in italics, e.g. Since when have I listened to anyone? Zenitsu crossed his arms, preparing his argument.

I hope this helps! Keep writing 🙂

Hi Donna, thank you for sharing that. In this case (and many others), a simple ‘said’ would suffice. Otherwise you could also use an action tag to show the speaker’s emotions or intent. For example:

“It’s fine, I can give it to him.” She reached her hand out for the folder.

I hope this helps!

Hi Victoria, thank you for your question. It would depend on what the person is thanking for. You could have a simple, “Thanks,” he said.’ Or, for example, if someone didn’t actually like what the person gave them, said or did, and was being sarcastic: “Gee, thanks.” He rolled his eyes’. So try to balance showing the feeling through the words of the dialogue itself with showing feeling through the gestures and expressions people make when they speak.

I hope this helps! Happy writing.

Hi there! Im a young author and already know most words for ‘said’ but i wanted to know more words for feelings or for thought. And i am so very sorry if you already wrote some of it, i just didnt have time to read it since I am a really busy kid.

Hi Yuko, thank you for sharing that. When you say ‘words for feelings or for thought’ do you mean words to show that a phrase is what a character felt or thought, or words for feelings and thoughts themselves (e.g. “X,” he thought…’ or the names for different emotions and such?). In place of ‘thought’ you could have tags such as ‘wondered’, ‘reasoned’, ‘puzzled’ etc as thought-actions. For example: “But if the shooter was standing here…” The detective puzzled over the scene.’

Thank you for the feed back! I really appreciate you writing back! This is a fan fiction story, from an anime in Kimetsu no naiba and often they have scenes when a character is talking to them selves. So the scene I made was: “We shall not have that language in here Inosuke!” Kiena chided firmly. Almost immediately Inosuke bowed and replied “I’m sorry Miss!”
‘Since when did when have he listened to someone?’ Zenitsu questioned himself. When I have scenes like this, I often write the same thing over again (e.g thought Tanjiro/ thought to
himself.) I am looking for another word for you have any ideas?

Note well Elmore Leonard’s Rule #3 of his Rules for Writing (and I quote):
“3. Never use a verb other than ”said” to carry dialogue.
The line of dialogue belongs to the character; the verb is the writer sticking his nose in. But said is far less intrusive than grumbled, gasped, cautioned, lied. I once noticed Mary McCarthy ending a line of dialogue with ”she asseverated,” and had to stop reading to get the dictionary.”
Verbum sab sat!

Hi Alex, absolutely, this very good point is exactly why we revised this. There also is a genre/literary debate about this, as one does tend to see more ‘nose-in’ tags in certain genres, but ‘said’ is definitely least obtrusive. Action tags are also a helpful way to avoid making the dialogue tag do too much of the work. We also followed up on this with another post here, with more examples showing why unobtrusive is often as effective and renders the author’s hand less visible.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and for reading our blog.

This helped me so much! We had to write a narrative and I was using a lot of “said” Because I couldn’t figure out other words instead of “said” Thank you so much!

Hi Ari, it’s a pleasure! I’m glad it’s helped with your assignment. Just remember to use action tags and other devices too so you aren’t overusing odd substitutes for ‘said’.

This has helped me ever so much!!! I had to write a suspense story for school. My mind was completely blank so I searched up synonyms for said and this website came up! I tried it out and it really helped! Thanks so much. Will definitely come here for future assignments.

Thank you so much! This helped me with an assignment for my English class. I could not think of any words besides said, but thankfully I got some words thanks to this.

Hi Grace, that’s fantastic. I hope your assignment went well (English class was always my favourite ?). Thank you for sharing your feedback.

This was incredibly helpful, and also articulate and comprehensible for a non-native speaker like me! I especially enjoyed the part about using the speaker’s gestures and actions to substitute tags; it’s something I love in dialogues, so this helped me so much. Thanks a lot! 🙂

Thank you, Lena! I love that in dialogues too, it brings in a little more visual specificity and movement. Thank you for reading our articles.

This helped me so much – I’m writing a so-called book/novel and my head couldn’t think of anything besides “Said”. This came in handy, thank you! 🙂

Hi Alma, that’s great to hear. I hope your novel is coming along well! Thanks for reading our articles.

This website helped a lot! I couldn’t find any words other than “said” for my novel and It really bothered me but thanks to this I have different, interesting, better words to use. Thanks!!

Hi Lizzie, thank you for sharing that. I’m glad to hear it’s been helpful. Good luck with your novel.

This is really useful! I just couldn’t think of any other words besides “said” and “asked”, so this really helped me out. Thanks!

This helped me so much with my book I’m writing! My mind was completely blank before. And now I’m the top of my class! Thank you very much!

This really helped! I’m writing a story and I was only putting said and stuff like that. Now I’ve changed the story around and it sounds a lot better!

Hey! I am in still and school and I am planning on writing a book but I always say ‘said’ so it gets repetitive. This Helped me loads! Thanks so much!

Thank you for this post. I am writing a story and I needed better words than said, shouted, yelled and other lame words like that. Thanks for helping my story sound better.

It’s a pleasure! Remember that ‘said’ is often the least obtrusive (if the words a character says can convey the emotion, that’s half the work a tag could be doing already done).

Hey Jordan, I think that it’s so cool that you reply to everybody’s comments. It really shows how much you actually care. And pay attention to the comments instead of ignoring them like so many other people. Really awesome.

Thank you, L.P.S. I try to reply to everyone, we want to encourage discussion and questions as much as possible. Thank you for reading our blog, too ?

This helps me a lot! Using a ‘said” word is very repetitive and sounds boring. I am still in school and I was planning to write my own story and published it on Wattpad. This really saves me from using said. And I thank you for that Jordan.

It’s a pleasure, Yvonne! Good luck with your Wattpad story (feel free to share stories for feedback with our critique community, too).

I wrote my entire book but found so many plot holes when rereading it, I ended up scrapping it and going back to work on my timeline, while doing that I’ve been researching a lot of stuff to make my book as perfect as I can get it. Dialogue has always been something I was confident about, but after reading this I realize that I would almost always have a “spoke (character)” at the end of each phrase. I never really thought much of it till reading this. I want to have it more sparingly, and after going over this blog? I think I finally get how to do that. Thank you so much.

It’s a pleasure Ross, it’s good you’re getting stuck into revision and learning as you go. Keep it up.

This is great, I’m writing a story and I never know what to put down instead of said.
Also i would say to add to the words a bit.

Hi there, thank you for your feedback! When you say ‘add to the words’, could you maybe be more specific (to which words in what way)?

I think this website is awesome And as other people said, I love how you reply to everybody’s comments and remind them of what they can do and how you encourage them with there projects or books

Thanks, Sam! It’s a pleasure, we’re here to encourage and help 🙂 Thank you for sharing your feedback with us.

Thank you so much for the free advice. I am writing my first book, which I started on three weeks ago. 20,000 words into the novel, I am amazed at how difficult it is to write dialog without making it sound repetitive, cumbersome and monotonous. Conveying emotion through writing is so challenging. And capturing body language, emotion, tone and intention only through words in a concise, creative and captivating manner is an art, as I have now come to appreciate. I am learning as I go because I don’t want to be the person who says “I will write a novel some day” and never get around to it. I have been writing at least a 1000 words a day and I have promised myself to not be judgement even if it is crap and a plot is not developing. Later, when I go for a walk on the beach, the characters take on a life of their own and the plot develops. It’s a leap of faith and in the interest of making myself accountable to someone, I hereby pledge that I will complete the novel by April 25th.

Thanks again.

Hi Rajita,

Congratulations on the progress you’ve made so far. It’s a good sign that your ‘characters take on a life of their own’ when you’re not writing as that shows your unconscious mind is showing up for the task, imagination is taking hold. 25th April is an ambitious deadline if you’re about a quarter of the way through (keeping in mind that the average trade paperback is around 80,000 words long) but if you have the time, focus and commitment I’m sure you can do it.

Good luck!

i really needed this. i was writing a story right now cause i cant sleep and these really helped with expressing the dialogue. thank you!!

I really love to write fanfiction, and I post it, but sometimes it’s just so frustrating with the lack of anything but ‘said’ in some of the fics I read! and write, too. I really can’t express how much this helped me. I hope to write a book someday as well, and if (hopefuly when) I do, I’ll be sure to keep this in mind! Here’s a bit from one of my stories that I changed before I found this site.
‘Harry Potter picked moodily at his food. The year was turning out to be even worse than the last, and that’s saying something.

So far, he’d been attacked by dementors in front of Dudley, been to a hearing at the Ministry, almost been expelled from Hogwarts, had a VERY bad (to put it lightly) Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Dumbledore had been kicked out, he’d been having dreams, his scar hurt,
had to take extra lessons with Snape, deal with everyone calling him a liar and insane, deal with
everyone keeping secrets from him, Dumbledore would barely LOOK at him all year, AND, to top it all off, that toad had etched words into his hand! Oh, and he was also banned from Quidditch for life.

Ron Weasley nudged him. “You okay mate?”

His eyebrows furrowed with concern. “You need to eat, Harry,” Ron continued when Harry didn’t respond.

Harry just shrugged in response.

To tell the truth, no he wasn’t okay.

Hermione Granger sighed and closed the book she had been reading. “Harry, please, at least eat one piece of bacon.”

Harry bit his lip.

“If you don’t eat, you might get detention!” Ron joked in hopes of getting the moody raven-haired
boy to eat.

But even that wasn’t enough to lift the teen’s spirits.

“Harry,” Neville Longbottom piped up, “seriously, answer. You’re scaring us.”

Harry pushed his plate back, ignoring the stares he was garnering from his friends, and a couple other Gryffindors who had been listening. “Guys, I’m fine, really,” he tried to tell them.

“Then why aren’t you eating?” his (male) best mate countered, quick to jump on the opportunity.

“Not everyone had a bottomless pit of a stomach, you know,” Harry replied, a bit amused.

His friends sighed in relief. But Harry went back to staring at his plate when Professor- oh, sorry,
I meant Headmistress Umbridge walked in.

He quickly looked up, though, when he heard the toad clear her throat. “Hem hem,” she began, getting the attention of the students. “Classes will be cancelled until otherwise said. Until then, we will be reading a series of seven books, about the life of Harry Potter, from years one thr-
ough seven.”

At this, there was an outcry.

“You can’t do this!”

“This is an outrage!”

“Invasion of privacy!”

“Slimy wart-covered toad!”

These were just some of the things that were called out. The last one, the insult, was probably one of the mild things said.

“Dolores, you can’t possibly do this!” protested Professor McGonagall. “First off, this is an inva-
sion of privacy, and Mr. Potter is only in his fifth year! And, even if he wasn’t, you should at least have full permission to do this, which you obviously do not have!”

Umbridge smiled in a sickly-sweet way. “Yes, Minerva, I am aware. Perhaps you’d like to read the note that came with the books out loud so people will see the reason?”

McGonagall grinded her teeth but read the note.

As she did, people looked at Harry in various degrees of pity, surprise, horror, and some disgust, the last from a couple Slytherins.

“This has to be illegal!” Hermione cried out, standing up from the bench and putting her book down.

“Not cool,” snapped Ron angrily.

Harry just sunk down in his seat to avoid the stares. Sure, he really didn’t want everyone to read his private thoughts, and the idea that he’d feel the pain was just cruel, but in the note it said that they didn’t want it to be like that. At least Umbit- sorry, Umbridge -wouldn’t be able to do anything.

The door opened and the people mentioned in the note walked in. “Snuffles!” Harry cried joyfully as the great black grim came loping over. Snuffles barked, and Harry ran a soothing hand through his fur.

It was still weird to him that he was petting his godfather, but if it would calm him down . . .

And reading the books would save lives, at least that’s what the note said. And, the books would prove Hagrid and Sirius innocent!

And, they’d only read up to the fourth book, and then they needed Harry’s permission to continue reading. That was a plus.

Remus and Tonks came over to sit with Harry and his friends. “Wotcher, Harry,” greeted Tonks. “The rest of you as well.”

“Hi Tonks!” responded Ginny brightly.

“Professor Lupin!” Dean Thomas stood up. “What are you doing here?”

“Same as everyone else.” Remus shrugged. “I got a note from the Ministry and came straight here.”

“Oh, Harry!” Molly Weasley gushed, coming over to sit with them. “Are you okay? Oh, this must be dreadful for you!”

Everyone looked expectantly at Harry, waiting for his reply.

Harry fidgeted uncomfortably at the sudden attention. “Well- I don’t like it, obviously, but if it’ll save lives . . .”

Ginny sighed, and Harry had a good idea why.

“Hem, hem.”

Gathering everyone’s attention, Umbridge stood up. “Now that we’re all clear on what’s happening, why don’t we start reading?” ‘
well, there it is! again, that you so much!

This site helps out a lot. I am currently writing a little story and this site is helping me with it. Thank you!

This website is amazing and really helpful. At the moment I am writing my own story and I am trying not to repeat the word “said”. Thank you so much, I recommend this website to my friend and she too thinks this is wonderful, thank you again : )

That’s great to hear, Alicia. We’re glad to help. Thank you for recommending Now Novel to your friend, too. Good luck to you both with your stories!

This has helped so much, thank you! I used to have no idea what to type in dialogue except for said. Now I can just come here and look for one. My friend and I are writing a book now it sounds much better. Again, thank you! 🙂

That’s great to hear, Leona. It’s a pleasure! Good luck with your co-authored book.

Hi Jordan,

The website doesn’t let me respond to your last message to me. Thanks for the encouragement.

Today, I am at 52,000 words and plot has been built. Maybe I won’t get to exactly 80,000 by April 25th but I anticipate that I will and if not, I will be somewhere in the 70s (thousands, that is :).

I have learnt that taking a leap of faith just means setting that time aside. I can do 1000 words in 50 minutes and my commitment to this effort in a minimum 1000 words a day. On a good weekend, I can do 5000 words but this weekend I only went 2000 words over because obviously, if the story is not flowing out of my fingers, I don’t want to produce for the sake of producing.

But when all is said and done, I have more stories, characters and plots in my head than I can ever get out into a novel. The difference between now and before is that previously, I never thought I had what it takes to be a writer and now I believe that anyone write a novel. I’ve learnt that it takes a combination of imagination and discipline.

Thanks again,

It’s my pleasure, Rajita. That sounds like fantastic progress, congratulations! You’re absolutely right that it takes imagination and discipline as well as making smart choices (e.g. where you describe writing 2000 when you aimed for 5000 but not letting this discourage you or pushing yourself past what felt a natural stopping point).

It sounds as though you’ve developed a process that works for you. Good luck finishing your story!

I am a 9th grade student. I started to write a book during the quarantine and this helped me a lot. thank you 🙂

That’s awesome, Joan. Thank you for reading our blog and sharing your feedback! Good luck finishing your book ☺

Hey Jordan,

I made it to 77,000 words today, finished writing the climax, and tied up most loose ends. I have 3,000 words to go, which I can reach simply by bulking up a few sections that need more description. I started mid-Feb and haven’t missed a day of writing at least 1000 words. This is in addition to the 60 hours I work per week. Once I hit 80,000 on Wednesday or sooner, I can’t wait to take a day’s break before entering editing hell. So much cleaning up to do and if I have a mental block, this is it. Something about going back and cleaning up raises fear that I will look back at all the words I wrote will look like drivel lol. and then there’s the hunt for an editor and with any luck a publisher/Audio book procers. I will definitely be coming back to this site for cleaning up the dialog in the next few weeks.

I think posting here on March 14th that I would finish the book by April 25th kept me accountable as I am not good at straying on my word. Thanks again for your forum 🙂

Hi Rajita, congratulations on your progress in writing your story! That is fantastic progress, especially given the 60 hours you work per week. Editing can be hell, but it can also be heaven, too! I would say try to shift your view of editing away from ‘cleaning up’ to ‘freshening up’. So often when I edit the author has a hidden gem behind some overwriting here, a little repetition and waffle there. Try to see it as an additional creative process rather than a chore, I’m sure that will help you find it more fun.

I’m glad we could help you keep accountable! You can be proud of the progress you’ve made.

It’s a pleasure, Lisa! Thank you for reading our blog. Good luck with your dystopian story.

Thank you, so much for this. I’m a 5th grader and this is helping a lot. I am currently writing a story and this is helping a lot, thank you again

This helps so much! I’m in 7th grade and I’ve been writing story’s for about two years now, and this site has helped me significantly improve in my writing.

That’s great to hear, Ava. I’m glad we’ve helped with your writing. It does take time, so it’s good you’re persevering with your story. Keep going 🙂

Wow! Thank you all so much for helping me, my writer’s block has been going on for a while now and this really helped.

I’m glad to hear that, Richard. It does help immersion. Good luck with your story and thanks for reading our blog.

I’m writing my debut novel as we speak and I’ve always struggled with dialogue as my skills lie in plot-building, scene descriptors, etc. It’s always been my weakness and I couldn’t figure out why. This put the why behind my dialogue that was okay, but not good. This was specific so now I see why mine always felt a touch wrong. I can pinpoint the differences in my own versus the examples that are clearly better. Thank you thank you!

Hi Cate, that’s great to hear. I’m glad this article had practical utility for you. Good luck with writing dialogue further, and thank you for taking time to leave your feedback and for reading our blog!

It’s a pleasure, LG. Enjoy the process! Thank you for reading our blog and leaving us feedback.

This was super helpful! I’m writing a book, and since I haven’t done anything like that in a while, I needed a bit of a refresher. Now I use this as a guide of some sort! Thank you 🙂

I have to write a realistic fiction story in my ELA class in school, and I say “said” or “says” so much, so this is a program was sent by an angel! LOL!

Hi Sadie, I hope you get a top mark or we’ll be hiring new angels ?. Thank you for reading our blog.

Thank you this really helps me write my story in my ELA Class in school I didn’t use say a much and a now how to write past, present, and future tense.

Hi Darius, that’s great to hear. I hope you do well in your class. Thanks for reading our blog and leaving feedback!

This was so helpful for everything! It helped me understand more of the work ethic for writing so much better!
And guess what? I got an A all because of this amazing source!
Thank you so much!!

Hi Fiona, that’s awesome, congratulations on your A 🙂 Keep it up and thanks for reading our blog.

Hi Carmine, thank you in that case for the rare comment 🙂 Thank you for reading our blog, it’s a pleasure.

I’m using this article for some help in writing a smaller novel/novella I’m writing. I have almost 14k words in it and wanted to see how many “said” words i had in it. I used it about 48 times, but wanted to lower that, so that’s what i did! Now its at around 10 🙂

also the word “said” was mainly used in the dialogue parts of it such as, “Oh, I said that to him.”

Hi Aaliyah, that sounds like a productive edit, I’m glad you found this article helpful. Good luck with your novella 🙂

hi, this really helped me in my realistic fiction writing
thank you for making a page about this

Hi Joshua, it’s a pleasure. I’m glad you found this helpful, thanks for reading our blog and sharing your feedback.

This is great advice. Like some of you, I have struggled with using he said, she said so much in my novel. I feel a bit more freedom now to let these characters yell, mumble, etc.! Thanks for the great post.

Hi Billy, thank you for sharing your feedback! A great rule of thumb is to favor words that one can easily imagine saying. For example, ‘she whispered’ (versus ‘she trilled’). The more ‘out there’ or creative the dialogue tag, the more it draws attention to the author’s hand usually.

I am so impressed and challenged by the information shared here and in the comments of your readers. I am working on a post for Education, as well, so it’s a timely visit. It is an important post, and I’ve not taken enough time to write it yet just thinking and researching so far.

Hi Vincent, thank you for sharing that. Good luck for your research and for writing it, I hope you enjoy the process.

I’m only in middle school and my friend showed my story to her teacher that used to be a highschool teacher and he said it would a A if I were in highschool and it was probably because I used a lot of the tips from this website.

That’s so lovely to hear, Zoey. I’m glad you received such encouraging words from your friend’s teacher. Keep writing!

Hi Shlok, I’m sorry to hear that. What is an ideal word count to you? We value our readers’ feedback 🙂 The links in the sidebar hopefully help to jump the sections that are most important/useful to you.

Hello Jordon,
Thank you for sharing this article with category-wise dialog words. I have one question, though. Can we use ‘thought’ also as a dialogue verb/word? An example: “Then, we have to get some solid proof somehow,” thought John.

Hi Mvsagar,

Great question. This can be used to indicate a thought, but is maybe best used for thoughts that are spoken aloud as the speech marks make it easy to confuse with spoken/voiced material. So the more common approach for thoughts is to italicize the thought. In this case, if the surrounding narration is in third person, the thought is written in first-person, present-tense (since it occurs in the unfolding moment).

Example: They had plenty of evidence, but hardly enough to sway a jury. Then we have to get some solid proof somehow, thought John.

It looks like I missed an email from your website about your reply. I have seen your reply just now. Thank you for your clarification. Now, I realize that we quite frequently say “I think ….” while speaking with others. So usage of the verb “thought” as a dialog verb seems right!

That’s lovely to hear Ayra, it’s a pleasure! Thank you for reading our blog. Remember to subscribe to our newsletter if you want to know whenever we share new articles.

Hi Julia. We’re glad we could help! Dialogue is crucial to making your story come alive, so it is worth taking the time to write believable conversations. We wish you the best of luck with your story, and hope you come and share it with us on our critique groups.

Thanks for question. You could say contemplates, ponders, wonders, muses on, considers or reflected, for instance. All of these could work well in place of ‘thought’. My personal preference is to write as plainly as possible, and ‘thought’ is good. The reader’s eye almost just glides over it to the meat of what is being said or thought. But I agree you need some other options if thought is being used over and over especially on one page!

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