Writing tip #4 Ghastly Saidisms

This is the fourth of 12 posts for writers who are planning to self-publish using the great services now available to the amateur writer, such as Smashwords, Amazon KDP, CreateSpace etc.

These mistakes are straight from week1 of “Good Writing 101”. You might get away with one or two of them; maybe people won’t notice. But if you consistently break these rules your chances of building a career as an author will be doomed.

4. Ghastly saidisms

Some writers seem to believe that it’s a mortal sin to use the word “said”. It isn’t. It’s the most natural way of attributing speech. There are others, just as good, like asked, whispered, muttered, mumbled, shouted, bellowed — roared even. But please never use saidisms that explain the nature of the speech. Here’s a sample passage from a writer who has fallen into this trap. Notice how stilted the whole thing is.

“When we enter the ship Carter can take point,” the commander directed. “Peters and French next.”

He dismissed the crew and they made their way to the kit room.

“I wonder where the commander will be when the action starts,” Partridge mused, strapping on her B-P vest.

Peters and French burst into laughter. “Why don’t you ask him?” Peters suggested.

“I’m sure he’d love to explain his reasoning,” French offered.

“Seriously,” Partridge persisted, “when do we ever see him leading from the front?”

“He’s the commander,” Carter explained. “He’s there to give the orders, not carry them out.”

“And we’re the cannon fodder,” Partridge countered.

“That’s right,” Carter confirmed. “And don’t you ever forget it, young lady.”



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