In Defense of the Word Said

Every single time I run across a beginner’s guide to writing, the author of the post tells people to not use said. They go off on a tangent with a hundred other words you can use instead before continuing on with a thousand other rules.

Vintage letterpress wood printing blocks placed randomly on a grunge metal tray from

First, to all those beginners looking for rules on how to write, worry about rules on your second or third draft. Write first. Then it won’t be so terrifying when you’re looking at a list of a hundred rules.

Second, for every guide writer, please, for my fragile yet spiteful heart, stop. Saying. The. Word. Said. Is. Bad. Do not replace every said with a different more magical word. Don’t.

I love said. I love the simplicity. I love the directiveness. I love how absolutely boring it is. You never remember it, do you? When you’re quoting a section from a book. When you fondly remember your favorite lines. It’s forgettable. It’s boring. It’s damn well perfect.

You don’t need the reader to remember every time someone says something. You need to remember what they said. Replied, answered, sneered, whispered, yelled, shouted, screamed, muttered, etc gets a more impressive response but sometimes you don’t need that. Sometimes, you’ve already described the emotions of your character. Sometimes, your reader already knows the tension in the character’s voice, the sharp tone in their words, and are waiting on the edge of their seat for that drop of dialogue that pulls everything together.

Said is a filler word that is forgotten. It doesn’t pull the reader back out to recognize the inflection. Said is perfect when you need the dialogue to move fast. If you have short phrased segments and lots of information that needs to be brought across, use said. Or use nothing at all. Don’t pull the reader out just because people say said is bad, just remember it’s place.

Said is boring. Said is easily forgotten.

Said is no longer looking like a word right now.

Please, any beginner writers out there, don’t be afraid of said. It’s boring, but boring words are needed sometimes. Readers don’t need to remember every word your novel has. They need to remember the story. They need to be engrossed in it. Said keeps you right there because it’s nothing more than an indication of who said what. Use that to your advantage.

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