How often do you get stuck trying to find the correct word that replaces said when writing dialogue?
And how often does this halt the flow of your writing when you’re on a roll?
Yep, I know. Me too. I don’t worry about it so much during the first draft as this is where I just write and get the story down any which way, making a little note or mark beside the ones I want to change later.
Why use an alternative word for said in dialogue? Well, it changes the way we interpret a person communicating with another, even if just referring to something described earlier. For example, he/she hinted, begged, yelled or whispered, changes the context of what’s being conveyed.
Take care not to overuse the alternatives as a reader can be put off by too many variations over several pages. If in doubt, use ‘said’.
Or, just leave them out if you want to speed up dialogue between characters. Have a read of Leading Up To… You’ll notice the start establishes the conversation with ‘said’ and ‘asked’, or in some instances, omits them altogether in favour of action. As the story progresses, fewer are used which allows the conversation to flow much easier.
I’ve compiled a list of alternatives below. Feel free to bookmark this page and refer to them when you need to use something different.
Added Admitted Advised Affirmed Agreed
Alleged Alluded Announced Answered Apologised
Appealed Argued Articulated Asked Asserted
Assured Babbled Bargained Barked Bawled
Beamed Began Begged Bellowed Belted
Blabbed Blustered Boasted Boomed Bragged
Breathed Cackled Cajoled Called Cautioned
Challenged Chanted Cheered Chimed Claimed
Commanded Commended Commented Conceded Concluded
Concurred Confessed Confided Confirmed Contested
Continued Conveyed Corrected Coughed Countered
Cried Criticised Croaked Cursed Debated
Decided Declared Defended Demanded Described
Dictated Digressed Directed Disclosed Droned
Echoed Elaborated Emphasized Enunciated Exaggerated
Exclaimed Explained Exploded Expressed Fretted
Fumed Gasped Giggled Groaned Growled
Grumbled Grunted Guessed Gulped Hailed
Hinted Hollered Howled Implied Implored
Inquired Insisted Instructed Interjected Interrupted
Jeered Joked Lamented Laughed Lectured
Lied Maintained Marveled Mentioned Moaned
Mouthed Mumbled Murmured Mused Muttered
Nagged Noted Objected Observed Offered
Ordered Panted Phrased Pleaded Pledged
Pointed out Pondered Prayed Preached Predicted
Proceeded Proclaimed Professed Promised Proposed
Protested Queried Questioned Quipped Quoted
Raged Ranted Rasped Raved Recalled
Recited Recommended Recounted Refuted Reiterated
Related Remarked Remembered Reminded Repeated
Replied Reported Reprimanded Requested Responded
Retaliated Retorted Revealed Roared Rumbled
Ruminated Sang Scoffed Scolded Screamed
Screeched Shouted Shrieked Shuddered Sighed
Snapped Snarled Sneered Sobbed Spat
Speculated Squawked Stammered Stated Stipulated
Stressed Stuttered Suggested Sympathised Taunted
Teased Testified Threatened Thundered Told
Urged Uttered Ventured Voiced Volunteered
Warned Wept Whimpered Whined Whispered
The list is not exhaustive as I’m sure there’s plenty I haven’t included. Have fun with them.