Wednesday Wing…..Dialogue, he said she said #wwwblogs #WriterTips

Welcome to my new feature called Wednesday Wing where I’ll be passing on

observations, tips and information to readers I’ve made a note of.

Rosie's Notebook

Today I’m passing on a basic tip about dialogue.

For many of you I’ll be talking to the converted BUT with self-publishing there are many books for sale which DO have areas which need improving.

Years ago when I read a book, the dialogue style never bothered me. NOW IT DOES, because I read a book with a different mind-set. Now I’m reading it for it’s entertainment value for myself and others. Writing is always evolving and is now a very competitive marketplace. Rules many adults learnt in school as children have changed and serious writers need to be aware of how dialogue can affect the flow of their storyline.

Dialogue followed by he/she said or he/she asked or the character’s name said/ asked etc for me labels the book as a “NOVICE or EARLY STAGE” piece of writing. A book may be the result of many drafts but if it still contains these basic words in excess, then I feel the book would benefit from more work before publication.

Along with the words mentioned above I’m likely to see several others which will rob me of a great read. Rayne Hall has a much larger comprehensive list of “Novice Beginner words” which she talks about in her books The Word Loss Diet and Why does My book Not sell

If your book has he/she turned to look at

He / she nodded slowly

SIGH, whisper, really or nice

Then you are letting down the reader and letting yourself down. There is a whole wealth of wonderful words and ways of expressing them to make your writing come alive for all the senses of the reader.

So what can you be using instead? Here is an easy example.

“I’ll have a pound of carrots,” said Mary, jabbing her finger at the pile on display.

 This could easily be; “I’ll have a pound of carrots.” Mary jabbed her finger at the mountain of orange vegetables.

Which one do you prefer and why?

Have a go yourself, try improving on the example above or open a book, choose a sentence and re-write it to improve it.

Here are links to all the previous Wednesday Wing Posts

May 6th 2015 – Checking your WordPress is linked to your Twitter helps others share your posts

May 13th 2015 – Writer’s Craft books by Rayne Hall full of REALLY useful tips

May 20th 2015 – Hyperlinks, Short links and Linkys

May 27th 2015 – Making your post titles easy to share on Twitter to maximise views.

June 17th 2015 – Creating Twitter pics that fit

June 24th 2015 – Creating a slideshow on WordPress

July 1st 2015 – Getting the most out of Google+ posts

July 8th 2015 – Automated Tweets, LOVE ‘EM or HATE ‘EM? make use of them

July 15th 2015 – What’s Your Book Genre?

July 22nd 2015 – Should you write dreams into your work?

July 29th 2015 – What can I read in the first 10% of your book?

14 thoughts on “Wednesday Wing…..Dialogue, he said she said #wwwblogs #WriterTips

  1. Clap clap and well said, Rosie. The only worry is that, now, the trend seems to be going too much the other way; I’ve recently read a book in which I kept having to trace back to see which character was saying what. I think it’s important to add some indication, as you did with Mary and her carrots, or even by the odd…. ‘he said’!


  2. Spot on! As a reader, and especially when listening, the he said/she said etc gets so repetitive and boring, ultimately putting me off the book.


  3. Pingback: She said - or is that Carrots

  4. Much better to use actions etc. to attribute dialogue as you say, he/she said can get so repetitive. Also best to avoid using words like ‘laughed’, ‘sighed’, ‘smiled’ etc in place of said and asked; I see this such a lot and it’s really off-putting.


  5. A lot of these choices depend on the style and flow of the writing. Nothing is wrong with using “said,” “asked,” and an occasional “answered” or “replied,” Nor is it incorrect to follow up those words with an action. However, most other verbs should be avoided when writing dialogue, especially sounds such as “sighed,” hissed, “growled,” etc. Those tags mark the work of an amateur, not the more common words or writing styles employed by all the great masters of prose, e.g., Ernest Hemingway.


Comments are closed.