This is understandable. Excessive amounts of dialogue tags besides said and asked are often syndromes of an amateur. Pull up a random fan-fiction, and it's likely there's a dialogue tag like laughed or quipped or even the infamous ejaculated.
These types of words pop out and are clunky to the point of being distracting.
...like the good old "show, not tell" rule, the "don't use said-bookism rule'" isn't in effect 100% of the time. Or even 80%.
For instance, I used the Nicolas Flamel series as an example in one of my posts on dialogue tags. While it used the word murmured one too many times, it's still a good series that has a decent amount of popularity. And despite its the almost total absence of dialogue tags, The Chronicle of Vladimir Tod slips some by when there are.
The Book Thief? I spotted a few mentions here and there.
Harry Potter? Slughorn ejaculated at Snape. Really.
Despite what advice you receive, you can say said-bookisms aren't as poisonous as you might have presumed them to be. Sure, it's lazy and overly colorful if you use a handful of them in one chapter, but or two don't spoil the entire bunch.
You can argue that "just because many works use it, doesn't mean it's good", but I don't think it applies here. Said-bookisms are mostly a mechanical element. They're not lazy plot device or cardboard characters. They're only a link in a long, fictional chain.
There are some cases some borderline said-bookisms that can work. It's safe to use shouted and whispered, to the point they're accepted alongside said/ask. They're volume indicators.
Some said-bookisms are awkward (like laughed and smiled), while there are some other sound tags that work based on context. For example, bark. Can a person bark a sentence? If you stretch the definition. Can you also howl, rasp, and bray? Your mileage may vary.
And in specific cases, like explained, admonished, and quipped:
- I'm guilty of overusing "explained.” "Explained" are among the words that I tend to overuse, and will certainly be on my edit list. But I think other writers had that same compelling feeling to add it in, and decided to keep them in.
- I actually saw "admonished" in an old collaboration project. I wanted to delete it due to being wordy, but they voted to keep it. They said that it elaborated the sentences meaning, even though it's just a fancy word for "friendly explanation.” Thoughts.
- "Quipped?” Get back on me about that.
Why You Need to Know This:
The point is that like any type of story mechanic, said-bookisms aren't 100% bad. They can be (and often are) misused and overused, but their presence doesn't condemn a work.
One reason why it's important to know this because over-thinking this can spoil your enjoyment of reading. It's good to keep a critic's mind open when reading, but for a few months, my mind kept seizing onto these words that my mind has long glazed over before several blogs pointed out that they were "bad.”
It wasn't until I read a couple of fantastic works my mind dropped this peeve and filtered them.
So, put down that gun, and worry about something else.
Chihuahua is a young, aspiring writer who loves writing, reading, music, Chihuahuas and dark chocolate. CO can be found at Thoughts of a Young Aspiring Writer.
Blog Image—Flickr-By krazydad / jbum