In my never-ending pursuit of a publishing contract I have read many a book, had many a page critiqued by fellow writers, and posted to many an author’s website. And yet I find myself amazed, once again, by how subjective people’s views on writing are. It amuses me when I pass pages out to my critique group and find two of my fellow-writers have circled the same word, one with the comment, “poor word choice”, the other with a smiley faced “I love it!” It can be frustrating, however, when I strive to learn all about my trade and find contradictory points of view on a subject.
For instance, I recently watched a video of an author presenting to an audience and his number one point was, “never, ever use the word ‘said'”. Why use “said” when you could use something more colorful, more descriptive, such as “proposed, sneered, offered, commented….” So, being the good little writer that I am, I searched out all of the” saids” in TWO of my novels and replaced them (it was a lot of work). Imagine my surprise when, a few weeks later I run across a blog quoting from a book on writing that said, “never use any verb other than ‘said’ for dialogue”! This author claims that “said” is much less intrusive than “chirped, harped, griped, snapped….” According to him, and, I discovered, many other sources, the reader doesn’t even notice a “said” when they are reading. I’d have to say I agree with this assessment. Revising those two books is going to be much harder now; I can’t just do a search on “said” and find some clever way to replace it. I’ll have to reread them from the begining, again. I think I’ll shelf that for now.
Moral of the story? Perhaps my sixteen-year-old daughter had it right when she SAID, “Mom, just forget all that stuff and write!” Maybe teens do know it all.