Thursday, May 2, 2013
Question from the e-mail--writint tip
The Volunteer centers on one man’s struggle with to find inner peace. And examines the question of what compels volunteers to respond no matter what time of day or night, to sacrifice their time, financial resources, their talents, and risk their lives, in the service of their communities?
Question from the e-mail: I've heard everyone tell me to "vary the language," and not to use the same word over and over again, while others advise me just to use the word "said" every time, instead of looking for synonyms, in dialogue. What do you advise?
Answer: Well in my opinion, synonyms are not really necessary for common words like "said." The mind just skims right over it and using synonyms like: opined; extolled; stated; ordered; emoted; or even exclaimed!!! usually just gets in the way of what you are trying to convey.
On the other hand, using said every other sentence can be annoying, too.
Here's a neat little technique you can use. If you show a character in action (an action tag) within the same paragraph as their dialogue speech, the reader will assume the character who moved was also the one who spoke. This little trick can get rid of a lot of repetitive language (all those annoying saids), and it forces you to insert an image. Don't forget, images are "good writing."
You only have to be careful to make certain that the person who speaks and the person who moves are the same character.
If you want to show another character's reaction to the speech, change paragraphs, even if they don't say anything. Treat the movement just as if it were a dialogue reply.
So that's my best solution. Substitute an action tag, in place of a speech tag. The action tag contains no speech attribution, and it is a separate sentence, so it gets a cap, following a period after the dialogue.