So you’re a writer. Welcome to the club, please pick your t-shirt from the pile and have a seat. You’ve probably been around the interwebs and have no doubt found an article or two on the topic of said. You know, dialogue tags.
There are two firm groups of thought here. Okay, okay – two groups of fanatics.
One will tell you Said Is Dead. This group probably started to screw with your mind in high school – I know I was taught that it’s much more descriptive and interesting to use different words than boring, overused said. I remember exercises where we had to complete dialogues by using any words other than said, or we’d be penalised.
A year or so ago, I read a writing exercise idea on a blog that changed the way I view watching TV. The blogger in question would make notes of, then dissect the episode she was watching. She’d figure out which plot points worked, which didn’t, where the dialogue fell flat, where it rocked, and how she would have improved the episode. By doing this, she swore she learned better writing techniques. (I’m sorry I can’t find the link to this article now.)
I’ve never taken an episode apart like that, but I haven’t really viewed anything on the telly in the same way either. This thing about learning better writing from TV has remained in the back of my mind, so my viewing has become more critical.