I totes have this trouble with my writing. ALL the time.
Using “said” is fine, although there are plenty of times when something stronger could add to the passage. I just think of it as part of finding one’s style.
The Oxford comma, however, is the One True Way.
That’s what she said!
(Sorry, couldn’t resist… how could anyone resist, in a discussion about “said”?)
I work in a facility that requires me to use the Oxford comma in all forms of writing. I kid you not. Not sure I want to bring in my Turbian Style book to work.
I’ve been meaning to sent an email to Brandon Sanderson and mention this to him for a long time now. Of course I’d also explain how much I like his books, but man does the “so-and-so said” bug me. Basically every line in every dialogue (or even thoughts) ends with “so-and-so said” or a variation, which is more annoying now that he’s ending the Wheel of Time. I went through it again last winter and I’d wager Jordan used “so-and-so said” or a variation of it under 20 times in all the 11 books combined.
Oxford comma is mother. Oxford comma is father. Oxford comma is god.
….Yeah, I’m a fan of the Oxford comma. How’d you know?
A professional writer is an ameteur writer who didn’t quit.
The word “said” is sort of a stylistic tool. Some people prefer to use it sometimes and replace it with synonyms every now and then. Others prefer to let the action do the talking. In my experience, the greater writers use a combination of both. To learn how to write, read the bestsellers from the point of view of a writer. Break down a chapter into it’s fundamental elements, see if you can identify the writing tropes if they are present, identify the plot and what devices the author uses to advance it, that sort of thing. I would suggest Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series, most of all the first five books starting with The Eye of the World.
Also, the oxford comma is a black mark on the face of history and I despise it’s use. It should have never existed and I am proud to say I NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER USE IT.
The oxford comma is much more difficult then the webster comma.
The answer is pretty simple here: Start with just character actions to clue people into who said what. Now read what you just wrote and if you aren’t entirely sure who said what, add in a “so and so said” variant that best fits, remembering to mix up the “said” portion as well with variants like “exclaimed, mused, fumed, etc” or even extended variants that add in further action.
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