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REP

I have been curious.

I have noted thread counts of over a hundred on a number of threads. Does anyone know what the highest number of replies a thread has had in the past.

Crumbly Writer

@REP

I have noted thread counts of over a hundred on a number of threads. Does anyone know what the highest number of replies a thread has had in the past.

We'd have to check the old Google Groups Forum to be sure (we've had a few screaming matches in the past that went on far too long!).

Switch Blayde

The more interesting question is the thread with the most posts that were all on topic.

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

The more interesting question is the thread with the most posts that were all on topic.

I'd say, none with any more than 8 replies. It's easy to stay on topic when no one cares enough to contribute. On the other hand, it's difficult remaining on topic when someone says something you disagree with (or have a chance to make a clever (or non-clever) pun).

Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

that were all on topic.


Topic? We don't need no stinking topic. :)

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

Topic? We don't need no stinking topic. :)


Yes we do, we need The Hawaiin Topic.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

Yes we do, we need The Hawaiin Topic.

Tropics? That reminds me of a time ...

REP

@Switch Blayde

that were all on topic.


Has there ever been such a thread that has more than 1 reply? :)

Crumbly Writer

@REP

Has there ever been such a thread that has more than 1 reply? :)

Most threads stick to the topic until it's either been resolved, or it's clear not everyone's going to agree. Then people begin focusing on other issues, rather than fighting one another. In that way, it's actually a healthy alternative. Since they're specifically referring to things others have said, it doesn't make sense starting a separate reply to respond to a single person's reply.

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@REP

550 - https://storiesonline.net/d/s2/t504/said-vs-asked

257 - https://storiesonline.net/d/s3/t118/my-predictions-on-same-sex-marriage-are-already-happening

250 - https://storiesonline.net/d/s2/t1395/worst-homonym-or-homophone-misuse-the-real-stinkers-please

Replies:   Switch Blayde  REP
Ernest Bywater

@REP


Has there ever been such a thread that has more than 1 reply? :)


ayep, the one where the person asked for a range of older swear words and abusive terms.

Switch Blayde

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

550 - https://storiesonline.net/d/s2/t504/said-vs-asked


That one actually got me to use "asked" instead of "said" when a question was asked.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

That one actually got me to use "asked" instead of "said" when a question was asked.

Oodly, it got me to do the opposite. Once I use the term once, to establish that people are asking questions, I switch over to "said" unless it's necessary (to remind readers) that people are posing questions (I like mine doing handstands best).

Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

Oodly, it got me to do the opposite. Once I use the term once, to establish that people are asking questions, I switch over to "said" unless it's necessary (to remind readers) that people are posing questions (I like mine doing handstands best).


I always use 'asked' when it's a question. But use said and finish with an exclamation mark when it's a rhetorical question or a sarcastic question they don't expect an answer to. That way I use the said / ask aspect to help lead the reader's expectations about the text.

Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


Once I use the term once, to establish that people are asking questions, I switch over to "said" unless it's necessary (to remind readers)


The question mark tells the reader it's a question. That's why I used to use "said" because "asked" was redundant with the question mark. But after thinking about it, "asked" made more sense.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

The question mark tells the reader it's a question. That's why I used to use "said" because "asked" was redundant with the question mark. But after thinking about it, "asked" made more sense.

As I pointed out in the previous discussion (or maybe you did), most of the articles supporting using "said" stress that it works with questions as well. The question mark is all the indication of a question they need (i.e. the "asked" doesn't add anything, so why burden readers with parsing it).

As I said earlier, I'll drop "asked" early in a debate to announce there are going to be questions bouncing back and forth, but then switch to "said" for most of the following "asked"s. Still, I'm left with quite a few of them.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


most of the articles supporting using "said" stress that it works with questions as well. The question mark is all the indication of a question they need (i.e. the "asked" doesn't add anything, so why burden readers with parsing it).


I won't go into this heavily, but I disagree with the articles, because when you talk to someone about what another person said you always say 'asked' when they asked a question. When I'm reading a story and I see 'said' before a question I automatically assume it was meant as a rhetorical question because the person is using normal dialogue and not a questioning dialogue tag.

edit to add: When there's a bit of verbal ping-pong I do tend to drop the tags altogether, thus the question mark is the only indicator to show the question. However, in that situation I don't have said or asked with that dialogue either.

Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

When I'm reading a story and I see 'said' before a question I automatically assume it was meant as a rhetorical question because the person is using normal dialogue and not a questioning dialogue tag.


That's also how I would parse said followed by a question.

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

When there's a bit of verbal ping-pong I do tend to drop the tags altogether, thus the question mark is the only indicator to show the question. However, in that situation I don't have said or asked with that dialogue either.

Typically, the only reason I use either "said" or "asked" in those circumstances is to identify the speaker in a rapid exchange among a group. However, continually repeating "asked" seems to be more obnoxious than repeating "said" (as keeps being pointed out in these articles).

I suspect, because I prefer such large group stories, I may be dealing with slightly different situations than many here. Think of it as 'identifier exhaustion'.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer


I suspect, because I prefer such large group stories, I may be dealing with slightly different situations than many here. Think of it as 'identifier exhaustion'.


I sometimes hit that issue, too. I deal with it, most of the time, by using an action to identify the person speaking, that way I can 'tag' them with the action. Or include additional dialogue with it. Two options I've used are along the lines of:

Fred said, "OK. Now about the other base?"

Jim turned to Mike, "How did he do that?"

You often have to think about how you'll fit it in. Another option is to have a section of two person verbal ping-pong within the group for a few exchanges, then bring a third and have it as a different two person ping-pong for a while. Then rinse and repeat.

Ross at Play

@Ernest Bywater

I always use 'asked' when it's a question ... to help lead the reader's expectations about the text.

Careful writers ensure readers always know what is happening.
They make sure readers know immediately who is speaking. Isn't it equally important readers know immediately whether a speaker is making a statement or asking a question?
The argument that 'asked' adds nothing if a question mark is used is complete bullshit. Using 'asked' before the spoken words adds when the reader knows a question is being asked.
I note that beginning questions with "W-words" usually suffices so readers will know a question is being asked.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Ross at Play

I note that beginning questions with "W-words" usually suffices so readers will know a question is being asked.


Not so with rhetorical questions. They use the same words as a normal question, but an answer is not expected. Many writer, such as I, do not use a question mark for rhetorical questions, but many other writers use a question mark for all questions, even rhetorical questions. Even so, the punctuation is easily missed as well.

If the dialogue is preceded by the word said, then it's natural to regard the dialogue as a rhetorical question because they aren't 'asking' anyone anything, they're saying something.

I suspect we'll end up disagreeing on this, but, to me, it all comes down to clarity and uniformity so the reader can always have a clear expectation. Thus you don't want to mix the terms inappropriately.

It's particularly bad if you use asked in some cases and said in others where you mean them all to be clear questions. If you aren't going to use asked all the time you have a person state a question as the start of that dialogue, then you should never use it. Mixing them up for the same usage only confuses readers.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater


I always use 'asked' when it's a question. But use said and finish with an exclamation mark when it's a rhetorical question or a sarcastic question they don't expect an answer to.


I think (to be specific) you meant:

I always use 'asked' when it's a question. But if the intention is to assert something (it is actually a statement, and merely phrased like a question), then use 'said' and finish with a full stop or exclamation mark.

That seemed to be the consensus reached in the thread https://storiesonline.net/d/s2/t1605/confusion-about-rhetorical-questions.

You defined three types of 'rhetorical questions' in that thread, and stated one type requires question marks.

Question marks are used whenever a speaker is asking something - and it's irrelevant whether or not an answer is expected, the speaker intends answering it themselves, the answer is already known, or the boss will only accept one answer.

EDIT TO ADD:
Ernest made his post above while I was drafting this post. I'll check what he said now.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Ross at Play

@Ernest Bywater

I suspect we'll end up disagreeing on this

On the contrary, I think we are in complete agreement about what writers should be doing. The only difference is the use of the word 'rhetorical'.

In a previous thread you wrote this

I was taught in both high school and college there are a number of forms of rhetorical questions. The three most common being:
1. A question the speaker asks with the intent of answering it themselves, and it should end with a question mark. Example: political candidate says, "Why should you vote for me? Because I stand for ..."
2. A clear statement worded like a question, but isn't meant to be answered, and it should end with an exclamation mark. This is often meant to be said in an emphatic manner. (note: this is the most common you one you see in stories.)
3. The indirect question that doesn't sound like a question, and ends in a full stop.

I see another form - questions nobody will answer that are NOT statements, for example, Why do I keep on doing things like this?

Can we agree we do agree on this, and drop it?

Ross at Play

Why restrict yourself to one or two words when there are many hundreds of other options?

Accepted, Accused, Acknowledged, Addressed, Admitted, Advertised, Advised, Affirmed, Agonized, Agreed, Alleged, Announced, Answered, Appealed, Arranged, Articulated, Asked, Asserted, Asseverated, Assumed, Assured, Attracted, Avered, Avowed
Babbled, Barked, Bawled, Beamed, Beckoned, Began, Begged, Bellowed, Beseeched, Blubbered, Blurted, Bossed, Bragged, Breathed, Broadcasted, Burst
Cajoled, Called, Carped, Cautioned, Censured, Cheered, Chimed in, Choked, Chortled, Chuckled, Circulated, Claimed, Comforted, Commented, Conceded, Concluded, Concurred, Condemned, Conferred, Confessed, Confided, Confirmed, Consoled, Contended, Continued, Cried out, Criticized, Croaked, Crooned, Crowed
Declared, Decided, Defended, Demanded, Denoted, Dictated, Disclosed, Disposed, Disseminated, Distributed, Divulged, Doubted, Drawled
Echoed, Emitted, Empathized, Encouraged, Ended, Entreated, Exacted, Exclaimed, Explained, Exposed
Faltered, Finished, Fretted, Fumed
Gawped, Giggled, Glowered, Grieved, Grinned, Groaned, Growled, Grumbled, Grunted, Guessed
Held, Hesitated, Hinted, Hissed, Hollered, Howled, Hypothesized
Imparted, Imitated, Implied, Implored, Importuned, Inclined, Indicated, Informed, Inquired, Insisted, Interjected, Invited
Jabbered, Joked, Justified
Keened
Lamented, Laughed, Leered, Lied, Lilted
Maintained, Made known, Made public, Marked, Mewled, Mimicked, Moaned, Mocked, Mourned, Mumbled, Murmured, Mused
Necessitated, Noted
Observed, Offered, Ordered
Panted, Passed on, Pleaded, Pointed out, Pondered, Postulated, Praised, Preached, Premised, Presented, Presupposed, Probed, Proclaimed, Prodded, Professed, Proffered, Promised, Promulgated, Proposed, Protested, Provoked, Publicized, Published, Puled, Put forth, Put out
Quaked, Queried, Questioned, Quipped, Quavered, Quizzed, Quoted
Reassured, Raged, Ranted, Reckoned that, Rejoiced, Rejoined, Released, Remarked, Remonstrated, Repeated, Replied, Reported, Reprimanded, Requested, Required, Requisitioned, Retorted, Revealed, Roared
Said, Sang, Scoffed, Scolded, Screamed, Seethed, Sent on, Settled, Shared, Shouted, Shrieked, Shrugged, Shuddered, Snapped, Snarled, Sniffled, Sniveled, Snorted, Sobbed, Solicited, Sought, Specified, Speculated, Spluttered, Spread, Squeaked, Stammered, Stated, Stuttered, Stressed, Suggested, Supposed, Swore
Taunted, Teased, Testified, Thundered, Ticked off, Told, Told off, Touted, Trailed off, Transferred, Transmitted, Trembled, Trilled, Trumpeted
Understood, Undertook, Upbraided, Urged, Uttered
Verified, Vociferated, Voiced, Volunteered, Vouched for
Wailed, Wanted, Warned, Wept, Went on, Wheedled, Whimpered, Whined, Whispered, Wondered
Yawped, Yelled, Yelped, Yowled

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

It's particularly bad if you use asked in some cases and said in others where you mean them all to be clear questions. If you aren't going to use asked all the time you have a person state a question as the start of that dialogue, then you should never use it. Mixing them up for the same usage only confuses readers.

That gets back to the original research, supported by most traditional publishers now, that "said" is largely invisible, while "asked" and other identifiers isn't. I know we've gone around and around about this, with many of you refusing to believe it happens, but if (for now) we assume it does, then it's not so much confusing the reader, as distracting them less.

The idea is to identify the speech with as little distraction from the story as possible. Adding action adds a nice bit of detail to the story, but after the fifth "he turned towards XXX", it gets a bit grating.

I wish we could dig up the original research (I'm not sure it's ever been published, as blogs keep discussing it with no one ever having seen it themselves). But based on my experiences, I can easily imagine readers coasting past a "said" without paying much attention, while they'd trip over each and every "asked" (or "contemplated").

Thus I try to use the technique, but I'm not completely gun-hoe about it. I'll use it intermittently, in an effort to limit distracting identifiers, just as I add description actions, but the idea is to make the dialogue as transparent as possible, so readers focus on the dialog rather than what's happening around the edges.

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

Why restrict yourself to one or two words when there are many hundreds of other options?

Accepted, Accused, ...

Exactly. That's where the movement away from descriptive identifiers and towards the so-called 'invisible' identifier ("said") originated from.

It's OK to include a descriptive identifier occasionally, if it actually adds something to the scene. But just tossing in a different identifier each time someone says something is a sign of a bored writer with nothing better to deal with (like plot).

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Ernest Bywater


My comment
I note that beginning questions with "W-words" usually suffices so readers will know a question is being asked.
Your reply
Not so with rhetorical questions.

Agreed, which is why I clarified with 'usually suffices'.
***
I have learnt something new today from your comments about readers' expectations, for example, careful writers should consider including said before rhetorical questions beginning with W-words.

Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

It's OK to include a descriptive identifier occasionally, if it actually adds something to the scene.

Agreed, they can easily be overdone.
An author must consider their audience too. Clearly said and asked should be used more often if trying to write at the level an average junior high student can understand.

Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

gun-hoe

Is this a modern-day version of "turning swords into plowshares", or is the word you meant 'gung-ho'?

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
awnlee jawking
Updated:

@Ross at Play

I always use 'asked' when it's a question.


As an ease-of-reading nazi, I always use asked or a synonym thereof for a question which seeks an answer.

But I suspect much of this thread will be spent iterating what was said in its antecedent.

AJ

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
awnlee jawking

@REP

thread counts of over a hundred


Is this like Egyptian cotton sheets where higher thread counts are commensurate with better quality?

AJ

Replies:   REP
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

then it's not so much confusing the reader, as distracting them


I disagree on this analysis result.

One of the reasons most people see the word said as being almost invisible is because it's used in regards to normal general dialogue situations which is basically a statement of some sort. A question is outside that paradigm, and thus you need to alert the reader there's a sidestep about to happen, and that's where asked comes to the fore.

However, what's more important is the uniformity of approach. Regardless of if you use 'said' or 'asked' as the tag with the dialogue you need to be uniform in it's usage through out the book. If you use the word 'asked' at the start, then you're training the reader to expect all questions to use that tag, to then switch to 'said' for the same type of dialogue you an cause confusion. You won't always do so, but the possibility is now there. It also means the reader has to take a little bit more time to sort out exactly what you're doing when you include a rhetorical question, because there are not immediate simple clues that's what it is.

I'm not saying you can't use 'said' instead of 'asked' - but I am saying it should be uniform, whatever you use. I'm also saying it helps the reader if you use 'asked' for a clear question requiring an answer from someone, and 'said' for rhetorical questions not requiring an answer - the simple tag puts them in the right mindset right away.

You also have to be careful when you move away from the simple 'said' and 'asked,' because the other words can cause a slow down, but there are good reasons to use some others like 'reply' or 'response' and similar words that also imply a little bit more than a simple 'said' does.

I don't like a book where the author only ever used 'said' nor do I like one where they use about twenty plus dialogue indicator tags just to show they can think up other words to say the same thing.

It all comes down to getting the most delivery out of the words for the scene. Four ways to present the same scene:

Mike said, "What the hell does Jim think he's doing?" while hitting the table with his hand.

Mike asked, "What the hell does Jim think he's doing?" while hitting the table with his hand.

"What the hell does Jim think he's doing?" Mike snarled while slamming the table with his hand.

Mike snarled, "What the hell does Jim think he's doing?" while he slammed the table with his hand.

You go with which option gives you the closest picture to what you wish to portray - all are valid to use. However, if I wanted to show it was a rhetorical question I'd use an exclamation mark and not a question mark, in which case the tag 'asked' isn't relevant.

Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@awnlee jawking


But I suspect of this thread will be spent iterating what was said in its antecedent.


That has a probability of approaching equilibrium with exactness.

typo, again

awnlee jawking

@Ernest Bywater

Oops, spot the missing word (now corrected) in my comment :(

AJ

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

Is this a modern-day version of "turning swords into plowshares", or is the word you meant 'gung-ho'?

That's where girls who are really into guns will pimp your firearms for you.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

In your example, Ernest, I'd drop the "said" entirely (since you already have an action identifier) and go with: Mike slammed the table with his hand. "What the hell does Jim think he's doing?"

Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

That's where girls who are really into guns will pimp your firearms for you.

so that's any woman who voted for Trump?

REP

@awnlee jawking

Is this like Egyptian cotton sheets where higher thread counts are commensurate with better quality?


Nope. Although, I suspect we could measure drift from the original topic as a function of comment count.

REP

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

Thanks.

REP

@Ernest Bywater

Many writer, such as I, do not use a question mark for rhetorical questions, but many other writers use a question mark for all questions, even rhetorical questions.


True.

Rhetorical questions fall into a general category that I call Psuedo-Questions. For me such a "question" is not intended to receive a response, so the use of "asked" and a question mark is not necessary.

My Psuedo-Question category also includes statements such as "command" and "exclamation" statements, and I punctuate them accordingly. For example:

"Don't you think you should go to bed."

"What do you mean! It sounds like you are saying I'm too old."

Replies:   Ross at Play
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

That gets back to the original research, supported by most traditional publishers now, that "said" is largely invisible, while "asked" and other identifiers isn't.


Can you provide a link to the actual research?

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

I'm not sure it's ever been published, as blogs keep discussing it with no one ever having seen it themselves


If it's never been published, I suspect it doesn't actually exist. It's like urban legends that always happen to a friend of a friend.

I can easily imagine readers coasting past a "said" without paying much attention, while they'd trip over each and every "asked" (or "contemplated").


Why, do you coast over said and trip over asked?

All I know for certain is that I don't trip over asked any more than I trip over said.

Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

That has a probability of approaching equilibrium with exactness.


For probability geeks, the correct term is unity, not equilibrium.

nit->pick :)

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

Can you provide a link to the actual research?

That was my point, the mainstream publishers keep referring to 'research', but they've never referenced it, so it's mostly theoretical and unsubstantiated at this point. I'd LOVE to see it, but it's unlikely an of us 'mere mortals' will even witness it. What's more, I assume it varies with context (i.e. it might apply to one group or genre, but not another). Thus believing in the 'said' fairy is mostly a matter of faith, not evidence.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

From DS:
Can you provide a link to the actual research?
Reply by CW:
That was my point, the mainstream publishers keep referring to 'research'

Can you provide link(s) to claims by mainstream publishers that research does exist?
That might influence 'mere mortals' who currently think it's like DS said, "an urban legend that always happens to a friend of a friend" - except that in this case, mainstream publishers do not have many friends, and you are not one of them. :-)

Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

Why restrict yourself to one or two words when there are many hundreds of other options?


Google "bookisms" or maybe "said-bookisms" for the answer.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Switch Blayde

I asked in wattpad since many authors are traditionally published and work with professional editors. The general consensus is you can use either "said" or asked" and most prefer "asked."

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ross at Play

@REP

Rhetorical questions fall into a general category that I call Psuedo-Questions. For me such a "question" is not intended to receive a response, so the use of "asked" and a question mark is not necessary.
My Psuedo-Question category also includes statements such as "command" and "exclamation" statements, and I punctuate them accordingly.

I like the new terminology, pseudo-question. This thread will not get anywhere without a shorthand category to put examples of things that are worded like questions but should not have question marks.
***
I think we all agree here that anything worded like a question that is making a clear statement should be classified as a pseudo-question. For the two examples you gave:
- "Don't you think you should go to bed." has a clear meaning (I think you should go to bed) which is quite different to the meaning of "Don't you think you should go to bed?"
- "What do you mean!" has a clear meaning (I disagree with your implication) which is quite different to the meaning of "What do you mean?"
***
My difference of opinion relates to rhetorical questions (not expecting an answer) that are NOT making a clear statement. I WOULD USE a question mark with rhetorical statements if it is not clear the speaker is stating they know the answer. I would do so when the speaker intends answering the question themselves, and also when they do not know the answer (for example, "Why did I do it?").
***
I think the question authors should be asking is not 'What do I mean?', but 'How will readers interpret it?' when I do not use a question mark after something worded as a question. I particularly like the answer CW gave to that in a previous thread, copied with the bold font added by me"

... in my opinion, the punctuation depends upon the delivery. If it's asked as a question, it receives a question mark. If it's delivered as a statement, it gets a period. If it's an order, or an exclamation, it gets a, you guessed it, an exclamation mark. But if the question doesn't end in a question mark, you'd better make it obvious why in the text, otherwise readers won't know how to process the sentence (sometimes rhetoric isn't obvious to those reading).

So my rule is it does not matter whether the speaker is expecting an answer; what does matter is whether will understand what the speaker is asserting whenever a question mark is not used.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ross at Play

@Ernest Bywater

One of the reasons most people see the word said as being almost invisible is because it's used in regards to normal general dialogue situations which is basically a statement of some sort. A question is outside that paradigm, and thus you need to alert the reader there's a sidestep about to happen, and that's where asked comes to the fore.

I have a problem trying to make one point to inexperienced authors I edit for. I am hoping you (or others) can give some support for what I have tried to explain to them.
[I am NOT going to put on my jackboots and insist they do what I command. My problem is they do not seem to recognise there is a difference.]
My problem occurs when there is a group exchange of dialogue and a new person comes in, perhaps after two have ping-ponged a few exchanges. In those cases I prefer the "Fred said" at the start of the paragraph (or sometimes after a short opening phrase). To me it is too late to only name the new speaker at the end of a long sentence (or several sentences). When that is done the possibility of temporary confusion by readers about who is speaking is too great.
I see this as being desirable for the same reasons that experienced writers here say they find ways to avoid using the dropped quotation mark convention for speeches extending over more than one paragraph.
Do the experienced authors here try to do this?

Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

Google "bookisms" or maybe "said-bookisms" for the answer.


Lots of results but not one that offers even a mote of evidence that they are distracting to any readers other than professional book critics and other industry insiders.

Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

Do the experienced authors here try to do this?


I'm not an experienced author, but I have nearly two decades of experience in corporate IT. I have been to a lot of meetings.

When you have a large group and two people are going back and forth, my personal experience in real conversations is that it works better to do something to draw the groups attention rather than just interjecting.

For this reason, I have moved towards actions or dialog itself to indicate a change in the active pair.

Fred knocked on the table.

Or have the last speaker in a given pair sequence ask a question or direct a statement to another member of the group.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

I prefer the "Fred said" at the start of the paragraph (or sometimes after a short opening phrase). To me it is too late to only name the new speaker at the end of a long sentence (or several sentences).


Yes, if you need to identify the speaker with a dialogue tag you need to do it as soon as possible.

Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

Lots of results but not one that offers even a mote of evidence that they are distracting to any readers other than professional book critics and other industry insiders.


There are 4 reasons:

1. "Said" becomes invisible to the reader.
2. Other words pull the reader out of the dialogue.
3. Other verbs fall into the "telling" mode.
4. You can't speak some of the verbs used.

But I'm not going to defend not using bookisms.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son
Updated:

@Switch Blayde

1. Assertion made with zero evidence.

2. Assertion made with zero evidence.

3. I agree that people shouldn't use those specific ones but that is only a small fraction of the available alternative verbs and is not a valid argument against using others.

4. I agree that such verbs should not be used, however, this is a tiny fraction of the available verbs and is not a valid argument for avoiding alternative to said that don't fall into this category.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Switch Blayde


I asked in wattpad since many authors are traditionally published and work with professional editors. The general consensus is you can use either "said" or asked" and most prefer "asked."


Again, my issue wasn't with using "asked", it was with using "asked" ten or twelve times in the course of a single conversation/debate. Whereas one or three seems natural and doesn't appear abnormal, that many can get tiring, in a way multiple "said"s don't seem to.

My point, was I liked using "asked", like others have suggested, to establish that there's a general debate, with questions being shot at one another, but I don't want to keep having to repeat it just because I want to identify each individual person. While action identifiers are handy, sometimes the story doesn't really need a "Sally shifted her feet, scratching her side" description to identify her repeatedly.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

I think we all agree here that anything worded like a question that is making a clear statement should be classified as a pseudo-question. For the two examples you gave:
- "Don't you think you should go to bed." has a clear meaning (I think you should go to bed) which is quite different to the meaning of "Don't you think you should go to bed?"
- "What do you mean!" has a clear meaning (I disagree with your implication) which is quite different to the meaning of "What do you mean?"

I agree that it's a valid alternative, but that doesn't mean I use it myself. Most times, questions (in whatever form) are asked in question form (rising inflection at the end). I differentiate the different questions by context, inflection and response, so I don't need to rely on punctuation to convey it. Like irony, I prefer painting the scene rather than "he said, ironically", so I like capturing the characters' attitudes during these group discussions. (Ex: "She placed her hands on her hips, staring down at him" or "Look, I know you're angry, but you need to see it from my perspective.")

Either works, but I prefer expressing myself in words, rather than flagging text via punctuation.

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

In those cases I prefer the "Fred said" at the start of the paragraph (or sometimes after a short opening phrase). To me it is too late to only name the new speaker at the end of a long sentence (or several sentences). When that is done the possibility of temporary confusion by readers about who is speaking is too great.

In that case, I'd forgo the "he said" and instead go with the more detailed action identifier. If someone new enters the scene, you need to not only identify who they are but where they came from, what they were doing, and why they're there. It's easier to do that by showing what they're doing when they walk in, and how the respond to the current dialogue.

If there's ever a use for the action identifier (identifying someone with action statements), this is a prime example.

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

Lots of results but not one that offers even a mote of evidence that they are distracting to any readers other than professional book critics and other industry insiders.

We all dug through plenty of examples of blog posts extolling the virtues of said (instead of more detailed 'telling identifiers' (ex: "She extolled" or even "she laughed" (how's that even possible when she's talking?)). However, they kept saying things like 'the mainstream publishers insist that readers don't notice the said, treating it as an invisible identifier'. In other words, they kept referring to a secret cable's private information, rather than anything anyone could document for themselves. However, it would take me a long time to dig out appropriate samples.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

Fred knocked on the table.

Or have the last speaker in a given pair sequence ask a question or direct a statement to another member of the group.

Or ...

Fred picked up the desk phone, heaving it at Phil, almost striking Robin by accident.

"Hey! I'm not a part of this incessant argument. Leave me out of it. You both need to go off and measure your dicks in private and leave the rest of us in peace!"

Ernest Bywater

I just did a Google search on the Said vs Asked issue, and got 217 million hits, I then added the '-blog' to the search and it dropped to just under 20 million hits. There be a lot of blogging on this question.

Many say to use only said, some say both are really acceptable, and some say Asked is as invisible as Said - that's from a random scan over the first 100 hits. You can go further if you want. I did not find any reference to an actual research paper, just assertions that Said is invisible maybe it's one of those urban myths.

I did find one clear statement on the issue by an important authority - In On Writing Stephen King expresses the belief that Said is the best identifier, but doesn't rule out using others.

So, people, spin the wheel, make your choices, and do as you damn well wish. But, please be uniform and clear for your readers.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

1. Assertion made with zero evidence.

Logically, "said" takes less processing time than something more uncommon or complicated.

2. Assertion made with zero evidence.

When a reader crossing something like "he extrapolated", it's jarring simply because it's so unexpected, and many times, they've got to stop to try to remember WTF the word means from the context. That's a show stopped, whereas "said" isn't.

3. I agree that people shouldn't use those specific ones but that is only a small fraction of the available alternative verbs and is not a valid argument against using others.

Concerning "said" vs. "asked", as I said, it isn't that "asked" is so difficult to process, it's that seeing it for the tenth time in a short passage is distracting, whereas seeing a dozen "said"s isn't. Readers generally expect "said" in this framework, whereas they see being constantly reminded that someone is doing something again and again (asking a question) is annoying.

4. I agree that such verbs should not be used, however, this is a tiny fraction of the available verbs and is not a valid argument for avoiding alternative to said that don't fall into this category.

Just as an aside, it isn't just the bookisms that are the issue, it's also repeating the same phrases (ex: "cried", "yelled", "shouted") over and over. As I just stated, often it's easier to use the same catch-all phrase (said) than than repeating another action verb ("called", "stated").

Replies:   Dominions Son
Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


using "asked" ten or twelve times in the course of a single conversation/debate. Whereas one or three seems natural and doesn't appear abnormal, that many can get tiring, in a way multiple "said"s don't seem to


Having many "said"s in a row is tiring because having many dialogue tags in a row is tiring. So I don't believe "asked" would be more tiring.

I believe if you sometimes end a question with "asked" while other times you use "said," that would be disruptive or annoying to the reader. It's my opinion that that would draw attention to the dialogue tag.

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

I did find one clear statement on the issue by an important authority - In On Writing Stephen King expresses the belief that Said is the best identifier, but doesn't rule out using others.

I agree with you here, Ernest. They key is to simplify dialogue by reducing the distractions. You use other identifiers when you want to add something to the story/context, but when the identifier itself is unimportant, it's easier using "said" (i.e. not everything needs an action identifier, just like not every interaction requires a bookism).

Again, my initial objection wasn't with "asked", but with using "asked" a dozen times in short succession. I was looking for an alternative so it didn't seem obsessive.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Dominions Son
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer

Edited.


We all dug through plenty of examples of blog posts extolling the virtues of said (instead of more detailed 'telling identifiers'


I very much disagree that all or even most of the more detailed alternatives constitute telling. In my opinion, adjectives added to said are more likely to constitute telling that the alternative verbs.


"she laughed" (how's that even possible when she's talking?


It's not easy, but I've done it. Technically, I was already laughing, I couldn't stop and needed to say something. Again it's not easy, but it can be done.


However, they kept saying things like 'the mainstream publishers insist that readers don't notice the said, treating it as an invisible identifier'.


That is argument from authority and in the vast majority of cases, it is a logically invalid argument.


In other words, they kept referring to a secret cable's private information, rather than anything anyone could document for themselves.


More reason to believe that the argument is bogus. Real authorities with valid arguments can usually back them up. When all you have is assertion by a supposed authority with no valid reasoned argument from said authority, that is a very strong sign that the point is bogus.

However, it would take me a long time to dig out appropriate samples.


No amount of writing samples can add up to evidence supporting the assertion that said is invisible and other verbs distract readers.

The only thing I would take as valid evidence is published research for which the underlying methodology is something more than just an opinion poll and for which no more than 25% of the study participants are college students.

The more heavily weighted the sample is with college students, the less likely the results can be properly generalized to the larger population.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Dominions Son


"she laughed" (how's that even possible when she's talking?

It's not easy, but I've done it. Technically, I was already laughing, I couldn't stop and needed to say something. Again it's not easy, but it can be done.


You may be laughing while talking, but you're not laughing words. You won't find "laugh" as a synonym for "say" in a thesaurus.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

Logically, "said" takes less processing time than something more uncommon or complicated.


No, there is nothing at all logical about that assertion.

When a reader crossing something like "he extrapolated", it's jarring simply because it's so unexpected,


I am not arguing that none of the alternatives are jarring / distracting / whatever. However, no specific case of such proves the general argument as to all the alternatives.

Concerning "said" vs. "asked", as I said, it isn't that "asked" is so difficult to process, it's that seeing it for the tenth time in a short passage is distracting


Even in that, I disagree that this is a valid general case.

It is very much dependent on specific circumstances and context.

Why should asked be any more distracting than said if the short passage is a news conference with multiple reporters asking questions?

As I just stated, often it's easier to use the same catch-all phrase (said) than than repeating another action verb ("called", "stated").


That's not a valid general case applicable to all bookisms. "Called", "stated" carry no more information than "said"

On the other hand, "cried" "Yelled", and "Shouted" do carry additional information above and beyond "said", and you are never going to convince me that they constitute telling.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

You may be laughing while talking, but you're not laughing words.


A distinction without a difference.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

Logically, "said" takes less processing time than something more uncommon or complicated.

No, there is nothing at all logical about that assertion.

In the same way that "extrapulated" is more jarring than "explained", said is less jarring, simply because it takes slightly less processing time (logically speaking, not relying on non-existent statistics, which we all agree don't exist). Following that logical premise, "said" becomes easier to process than "asked" is. Again, I have no factual evidence of this, simply because I don't have my own research lab with thousands of people to interview to determine the results, but it makes sense, though we can argue over how much difference "said" and "stated" involves.

On the other hand, "cried" "Yelled", and "Shouted" do carry additional information above and beyond "said", and you are never going to convince me that they constitute telling.

You're conflating one argument into the next. I never said that "shouted" didn't add information to a scene, instead I was arguing that repeating the same action, over and over, is repetitious and more annoying that "said", simply because you're continually reminding readers of an action, rather than an identifier. (How many times can you insist that someone is yelling, rather than simply stating it once and letting it go? That's where the reading interruption occurs, rather than the processing time to figure out what "shout" means.

Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

but with using "asked" a dozen times in short succession. I was looking for an alternative so it didn't seem obsessive.


CW,

that's the situation where I look to drop the dialogue style tag right off of the page and go with the alternating ping-pong paragraphs where I can, and use some action tags. But, like most things, it's got to suit the scene and what you want to do there.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

A distinction without a difference.

I disagree. You can chuckled, or giggle while talking, but it's difficult to flat out laugh while saying words. If you use that, you'll necessarily have to modify the speech to show how it was broken by the act of laughing (making "laugh" as an identifier, pointless, since you're reduced to showing the laughter anyway).

In the same way, you can titter something (tee-hee), but it's extremely difficult to "gaffaw" something.

In short, these simpler forms of bookisms are lazy props for not painting the scene properly. Newbie authors typically use them rather than properly conveying what's happening in a scene, as they're typically in a rush to finish the dialogue before they forget what they want the characters to say.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

that's the situation where I look to drop the dialogue style tag right off of the page and go with the alternating ping-pong paragraphs where I can, and use some action tags. But, like most things, it's got to suit the scene and what you want to do there.

Ernest, for the scene in question, it's not a two-person dialogue. Instead, it's a group scene where multiple people are popping short one line questions at each other. The best I can offer here is to drop the identifiers of the non-essential questions, but my editors keep wanting to know who said which.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

The best I can offer here is to drop the identifiers of the non-essential questions, but my editors keep wanting to know who said which.


If it's not important who said what, then you don't need the dialogue tag. Your editors are wrong.

Think of shouts from a crowd. You list each one in a separate paragraph, but don't identify who.

Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

Ernest, for the scene in question, it's not a two-person dialogue. Instead, it's a group scene where multiple people are popping short one line questions at each other.


A lot depends on how you wish to play the scene, I've done this two ways in stories. In both the scenarios below there are several (or more) people in the group where the discussion is taking place.

scenario 1. Banter goes back and forth between A & B, C jumps in and if goes back and forth between A & C until D gets involved with direct exchange with C. - in this case I need only identify each one when they first speak and the first time the other replies, then then rest of the dialogue between those two is the standard bank and forth with no tags, until one of the speakers changes.

scenario 2. A is talking and responding to randomly shouted question from the group with no need to identify who in the group said what - thus you identify A, then say something like - members of the crowd called out questions to which A replied. Then you go into the ping-pong game because you jst made the dozen people in the crowd a single entity for the dialogue.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Dominions Son
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


I disagree


Again, I've done it. Not just speech broken up with laughing but laughing as the words come out. It's a bit extreme and very uncomfortable, but under the right circumstances, it can happen.

Note: I wouldn't generally use laughing as a dialog tag because while it is possible it's too extreme a circumstance and of the wrong type to fit in my stories.

Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

Again, I've done it. Not just speech broken up with laughing but laughing as the words come out. It's a bit extreme and very uncomfortable, but under the right circumstances, it can happen.


Now for the next trick conversation piece you have to learn how to burp words so people can understand them - drinking lots of coca-cola helps with building up the required gas for training.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

You're conflating one argument into the next. I never said that "shouted" didn't add information to a scene, instead I was arguing that repeating the same action, over and over, is repetitious and more annoying that "said", simply because you're continually reminding readers of an action, rather than an identifier.


"cried", "yelled", and "shouted" as dialog tags are not actions, they are descriptions that imply specific tones of voice, speaking cadences, or volume that differs from normal speech. Using said instead of repeating one of them implies that the character has returned to a normal tone/volume/cadence. They should be repeated if a return to normal speaking is not intended.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

Now for the next trick conversation piece you have to learn how to burp words so people can understand them


I can't burp words, but I can burp the alphabet. :)

I can't just laugh words on command, I have to be in a state where I am laughing uncontrollably.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

I was arguing that repeating the same action, over and over, is repetitious and more annoying that "said"


Personally, I find using said for anything other than a normal conversational tone to be more annoying.

How many times can you insist that someone is yelling, rather than simply stating it once and letting it go?


Unless you are dropping dialog tags altogether to ping pong, the correct answer is for as long as the character continues to yell. You don't switch back to said until that character stops shouting.

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

scenario 2. A is talking and responding to randomly shouted question from the group with no need to identify who in the group said what - thus you identify A, then say something like - members of the crowd called out questions to which A replied. Then you go into the ping-pong game because you jst made the dozen people in the crowd a single entity for the dialogue.

In this case, the questioners are all well-established secondary characters, so readers may be more invested in knowing who's taking which positions, rather than random voices from a crowd. The main protagonist, Al, is fielding questions, which various people are answering as best they can. It's more or less a well-controlled free-for-all.

By the way, the story in question is my currently posting "The Cuckoo's Progeny", so some of you may recognize the type of exchange.

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

I can't just laugh words on command, I have to be in a state where I am laughing uncontrollably.

I think I hear the tickle monster approaching.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

Clearly, I'm arguing a minor position that I can only partially defend (based on strained logic, rather than any established statistical evidence) so I'll drop the argument. Again, my point wasn't to eliminate anything, I'm simply trying to simplify extensive dialogue so it's easier to read. I'll continue struggling with it on my own.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

laughing as the words come out


Laughing as the words come out ... or better said ... laughing while speaking the words.

You're laughing as the words come out — you're not laughing the words.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

I think I hear the tickle monster approaching.


That's usually what gets me going that bad. :)

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

I'm simply trying to simplify extensive dialogue so it's easier to read.


I don't think that's a bad thing. My point is that replacing certain specific bookisms with "said" doesn't simplify, it significantly changes the meaning.

Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

You're laughing as the words come out — you're not laughing the words.


I will repeat, this is a distinction without a difference.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

I will repeat, this is a distinction without a difference.


The difference is called grammar and the role of the dialogue tag (verb) in the sentence.

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