Monday, February 15, 2010

Said or Not

I was up at my sons' school today to volunteer in the library and I passed the Literacy Coach (whom I just met a couple of weeks ago and who LOVES my new glasses) in the hall. She backtracked when she saw me and handed me a sheet of paper with the words, 'Said is Dead' written out in permanent market beside a two-column list of alternates to the much-used verb 'said'. It was a good list, with lots of interesting words for kids to try out, like whined, 'chuckled', 'exclaimed', etc. When I showed it to my son, he glanced over it and added, 'chimed in', which I thought was awesome.

Being involved (somewhat) in the publishing world, I find it interesting that they are encouraging students to avoid the old 'said' standby. Although I personally am a big fan of these interesting verbal verbs, I have heard it said that they are typically frowned upon and that publishers tend to prefer 'said' as it's relatively transparent to the reader (less jarring but also much less interesting). But I say--rather, I exclaim--jazz up those essays with 'hinted', 'mentioned' and 'wondered', kids! Said has had its day.

Recent signage in the school hall:
'Don't break a heat, buy a Valentine gram.' Is that like breaking a sweat? Kidding.

5 comments:

Al said...

If you like a "show rather than tell" model of writing, you can draw an awful lot out by changing a few key words.
But simple is sometimes best, so I wouldn't agree that a requiem is necessary.

s + b said...

what a great idea! i'm in a publishing class right now and let me tell you... (not that i'm a good writer, by any means), after reading two or three pieces by my fellow students, i might just mention the "said is dead" concept... some pieces can just get so tedious. thanks for sharing!

David Cranmer said...

"My vote would be with the tried and true." David said.

Alyssa Goodnight said...

Nice form, David. :)

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Ah, said is better, I agree. The occasional switch to "exclaimed" or "replied" or "shouted" works only if it's with a light hand. I'm with the editors on this one.