Thursday, December 11, 2008

"This is bad!" I heaved.

EDITED TO ADD: I have another post, from June 14 of this year and also tagged "language," about dialogue itself--in this case, sex-scene dialogue, which people actually wrote. Really, truly, actually wrote.

My previous blog was, in part, about winning a book when you don't get to choose the book you want to win. Oh, my. I was recently the recipient of a historical romance, issued this year by a major print publisher. Not only was it riddled with anachronisms (e.g., yuk, as an exclamation of disgust; two cents' worth; the last straw), it had the most stupendous, dizzying array of dialogue tags I've ever, EVER seen between two covers, paper or electronic.

What I found most annoying was how seldom characters "asked." Almost invariably, they "queried."

Where have all the good editors gone? Into e-publishing?

As you peruse the list below, keep in mind that each of these words was used as an indicator of a character speaking (like the way I used one of them in my post title). I kid you not. Comma, end quote, tag -- in that order. Many were followed by some rip-roaring adverbs, too, which put extra kinks in my occipital cortex and temporal lobe.

I have to confess I've employed many of these tags myself. Most authors have. "She asked" and "he answered" and "she said" don't go far in the descriptive department. Said-said-said can also wear on a reader's nerves. But . . . but . . .

Well, just check out the list. I doubt it's complete; I surely missed some because, frankly, I did have better things to do. By the way, I didn't bother jotting down the more common and acceptable tags, like "whispered," "murmured," and "replied."

Fellow e-authors: hold your heads high! Keep in mind this attractive trade paperback came from a big, snazzy New York house. Now go get a supersized beverage and settle in.

acquiesced
admonished
advised
affirmed
agreed
announced
apologized
applauded
averred
barked
beckoned
bellowed
beseeched
bit out
blazed
boomed
breathed
cajoled
called
ceded
chastised
chided
chimed in
choked out
chortled
chuckled
commented
concurred
confirmed
continued
corrected
countered
cut in
declared
demanded
denied
derided
elaborated
encouraged
enjoined
exclaimed
explained
exploded
expostulated (Wow!)
faltered
fired back
gasped
greeted
growled
grumbled
heaved
hesitated
hissed
imparted
implored
inquired
insisted
interjected
interrupted
invited
maintained
mewled
mimicked
mused
needled
nodded
offered
ordered
panted
persisted
petitioned
placated
praised
pressed
pressed again
probed
proceeded
prodded
promised
protested
pronounced
purred
pursued
queried
questioned
reasoned
refuted
reiterated
rejoined
remarked
reproved
responded
returned
roared
scoffed
shrugged
sighed
smiled
snarled
sneered
snorted
sobbed
spat
sputtered
stammered
stated
swore
supplied
taunted
tried to agree
vowed
warned
whimpered
yawned

22 comments:

Shayla Kersten said...

Okay, I know I have problems with my dialogue tags. I look for weird stuff in my self edits. Your post makes me giddy with relief knowing I'm not the world's worst! LOL

Belinda McBride said...

Holy Wow. That's just...I can't think of a word, but I want to know what this book is so I can go to the bookstore and stare at it!

Selena Illyria said...

*Big Eyes* Wow. Now I'm wondering about my writing and dialogue tags. LOL. I'm pretty sure I keep it simple. LOL.

Selena Illyria said...

ROTFLMAO! Belinda!

Cindy Spencer Pape said...

Okay, I've used SOME of those. But all in the same book? Shudder.

Mina Carter said...

*blinks* All in ONE book? Wow! I thought I was bad for overusing 'asked' (which ruthlessly gets the chop!)

K. Z. Snow said...

I swear, you guys, it made me think twice about my writing, too.

One of the best ways to learn is indeed through negative example!

(My reaction was the same as yours, Cindy: I've used a lot of these, too, but not all in the same book! And repeatedly!)

Selena Illyria said...

I just read the list again, there is no way I could all these words in one book. I just can't picture myself doing it. My editors would yell at me, hell I'm pretty sure they'd call me up to yell at me. My head hurts. Now I want to stare at the book with Belinda.

Shelley Munro said...

Good grief. I didn't know that many existed.

Francesca Hawley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Francesca Hawley said...

Let me rephrase part of this...

Wow, it's like someone went through a thesaurus. Holy crap! I know I'm bad about tagging, but I really don't think I could use ALL of those in one book. At least I hope not.

Clare London said...

WOW, and my personal favourite 'hissed' LMAO. I've just had my knuckles soundly rapped for using it too much in a story - espcially when there weren't even any 'sss' in most of the sentences to make it plausible. But I can safely say I never even *thought* of all this lot!
^___^

K. Z. Snow said...

What boggles my mind is that so many of these words simply should not, by any stretch, be used as dialogue tags. Acquiesced? Applauded? Nodded? Smiled?

"WTF?" I blazed.

K. Z. Snow said...

By the way, Belinda and Se, it does have a purty cover. Much easier on the eyes than the text itself.

Regina Carlysle said...

"OMG," I gasped.

Cat Marsters/Kate Johnson said...

It's just a shame there's no 'ejaculated' on the list. Because, believe me, I've seen that used as a dialogue tag.

Katie Reus said...

This is all from the SAME BOOK?? "Wow," I exclaimed. ;)

Samantha Kane said...

"Holy s#^t!" I choked out. "Perhaps it was bad editing?" I expostulated. "Oh don't be silly," I scoffed, "that goes without saying."

"Oh well," I shrugged (my shoulders just won't shut up these days.) At least it has a purty cover.

K. Z. Snow said...

REGINA - You can't just gasp "OMG." You must at least roar it! You, too, KATIE. Come on, you can do better than "exclaimed." :-)

CAT - I want to read that book!

SAMANTHA - The talking shoulders...that was my reaction, too!

Jeanne said...

Wow!
I can see Writing
He shrugged.
"I always forget." or something like that, but;
He shrugged, "I always do that."?
I mean that's bizzare!

Angelia Sparrow said...

Oh my...
Now I've used some of those, even including "chastised," but never all at once.

Now I want to go through and make sure the only person hissing stuff is the guy with the forked tongue who does it as part of his "demon lover" act.

K. Z. Snow said...

Angelia, I do believe it's possible to say something in a way that approximates hissing. The sound would be like a sharp, tight-jawed whisper. Other animal sounds can be mimicked by humans, too. (At the very least, readers seem to understand this descriptive shorthand.)

But you gotta draw the line somewhere, and this author clearly didn't.