Do you need synonyms for said?
Dialogue tags should be used as a seasoning and not as the main ingredient in your writing.
Readers have a blind spot for the word said, so you can use it without any concern when you write dialogue.
As Stephen King wrote in On Writing, regarding dialogue tags, “The best form of dialogue attribution is said, as in he said, she said, Bill said, Monica said.”
However, there are times when the use of said synonyms helps to convey an extra element of emotion. Also, using a descriptive dialogue reporting verb avoids the use of adverbs.
I am sure every writer has read this quote about adverbs, again by Stephen King.
“I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops.”
When you are writing dialogue, you need to be aware that dialogue tags are the voice of the author and not the characters. So keep them to a minimum.
When only two characters are speaking, it is often possible to avoid using them almost completely.
But when dialogue verbs are necessary, think carefully about your choice of vocabulary, and of course, go very easy on the use of adverbs.
Ways to say said
There are times when you might want to make a line of dialogue a little more expressive in a novel or short story. Selecting another word for said can help you.
The infographic at the end of this article gives you a full list of 350 words you can use in place of said.
Using a one-word reporting verb is a much better alternative than to add an adverb to a dialogue tag.
They are quick and to the point, but they still give a sense of an understandable emotive description.
Here are a few simple examples.
Bad: “I want to go home,” she said sadly.
Better: “I want to go home,” she cried.
Bad: “Where did they find it?” he asked curiously.
Better: “Where did they find it?” he wondered.
Bad: “Why did you do that?” he asked angrily.
Better: “Why did you do that?” he snarled.
Another quick and easy way to find a new synonym for reporting verbs is if you are a Grammarly user. You are only one right-click away from a long list of suggested replacements.
If you use ProWritingAid, you have even more help with both simple or contextural choices for synonyms.
Said by emotions
Before we get to the full list of verbs that you can use to replace said, here is a quick concise selection listed by emotions and situations that you might want to use for your reference.
Answering or responding
answered, conceded, concurred, explained, replied, responded
Confusion or uncertainty
doubtfully, guessed, hesitated, vacillated
Questioning or curiosity
asked, inquired, puzzled, queried, questioned, quizzed, wondered
bleated, blurted, exclaimed, gasped, sputtered
Sadness or sorrow
bawled, bewailed, blubbered, cried, lamented, sniffled, sobbed, wailed, wept
Provocation or incitement
bragged, gibed, jeered, lied, nagged, provoked
Romance and love
breathed, promised, purred, sighed
Persuasion and inducing
advised, appealed, asserted, begged, beseeched, cajoled, entreated, implored, urged
Happiness and joy
beamed, bubbled, cheered, chirped, chuckled, giggled, grinned, joked, sang, smiled, trilled
Anger and rage
barked, cursed, exploded, fumed, growled, hissed, raged, ranted, roared, scowled, snarled, swore, yelled
Disgust or loathing
cringed, grimaced, groused, grunted, rasped, sniffed, snorted
Fear or anxiety
gulped, prayed, quavered, shrieked, squealed, stuttered, whimpered, whined
admitted, confessed, hesitated, mumbled
350 synonyms for said
Here is the full list of verbs you can use in place of said.
You can use the infographic below for your writing reference, or you can share it on your blog with your readers.
If you prefer, you can also view the infographic in pdf.
More reading: Bad Words And Weak Words That Every Writer Should Avoid