Alternatives to 'He said' 'she said'

I am trying to write a book that doesn’t have ‘he said’ or ‘she said’ at the dialogue. Any suggestions? It doesn’t have to be contextual, just give me what you’ve got.
I know ‘he pondered, he blurted, he whispered, she moaned, she cried, she yelled’
I need more.

There are a lot of online sources for alternatives. Just google “creative dialogue tags” or “other words for said.”

But I wouldn’t go crazy. If you try too hard to put alternatives to “said” throughout the book, it won’t read naturally / very smoothly. And you don’t want it to feel forced. So I would just try and fit “whispered” and “breathed” and whatnot when it feels appropriate to specify that action.

Honestly, there’s nothing wrong with an abundance of “he said / she said.”

10 Likes

I have a whole book on this that I published in Wattpad. I have over 100 alternative words for said if you want to check it out.

Some people say publishers prefer “said” more than other words, but overdoing “said” can also be bad in my opinion.

It just depends on the writer I guess. Do what makes you happy.

8 Likes

I don’t know if this helps, but I sometimes like to write (either before or after the dialogue) an action that the character does that expressed their emotion.
For example: “After a few seconds Bob snaps his fingers.“You know, I have an idea!”

Sally’s eyes narrowed onto him “Really?.”

“Yep””

3 Likes

Oh i definitely won’t force it. Highfalutin words aren’t my thing.

2 Likes

I get that. But I just need alternatives to he said, she said

3 Likes

I’m also trying to write a book and had a similar question.
Someone else on the platform told me it’s best to ignore over using the word “said”. They told me the word is pretty much invisible to the reader and you shouldn’t worry too much over having it in your story. Alternatives would be that if there’s a certain emotion you want the character to convey, you can use words like: exclaimed, whispered, bellowed, etc.

4 Likes

While I personally also find that the word “said” written in abundance is annoying, it’s also annoying when there is ONLY words like “Whipsered” and “Scoffed” with “Said” nowhere. I feel it’s best if there’s 75% “Said”
and 25% anything else.

2 Likes

Yea but often I can’t find a word for the emotion which is why I made this post. Check out @SierraFarted book, Instead of Said.

2 Likes

Why do you need a word for the emotion? Unless the characters are talking on the phone or otherwise can’t see each other, it’s better to show the emotion with body language or/and (if it’s the POV character) inner thoughts.

1 Like

Yea I get that. But if I want to convey that my character is sad, and is saying something in that sad state, I can use an alternate word to said. That’s all. It’s not about action like crying or whatever. It’s just finding alternatives to ‘said’. That’s it.

2 Likes

She said sadly? Still, if it’s known to the reader the character is sad, it’ll be assumed she sounds sad.

2 Likes

You don’t get it. That’s ok.

1 Like

You’re right, I don’t get it.

It’s honestly a good thing to use “he said” and “she said” because it doesn’t annoy the reader as it becomes invisible for them. A lot of people who say “said is dead” don’t know how to write since every writer uses it (specifically for creative writing). However, they may say this because a lot of writers tend to use the dialogue tags as a crutch rather than a way to allow us to know who is speaking.

That’s the point of a dialogue tag: to show us who is speaking so we’re not confused.

“Otherwise,” said May, “if you’re always using dialogue tags…”

“Then,” said Sarah, cutting her sister off, “you’re making it repetitive and therefore, annoying to read.”

“So,” said May, “you need to slow down on the dialogue tags.”

“And to do this, you need to focus more on the external details rather than the dialogue,” Sarah said.


“Let me put this into perspective.” Mary tilted her head, her eyes glaring at her sister with a pleading request.

“No—” Sarah put her index finger up, her mouth open as if to protest.

“But you have to see the differences—”

“I don’t have to!” Sarah’s voice echoed through the room, piercing into Mary’s ears like her vocal cords ripped from Sarah’s body. Mary moved forward but Sarah stepped back, her stature a little disfigured. “By using the examples, it’s easy to see the difference. You don’t have to tell me!”


So basically, you can follow along by simply using actions, reactions, and even scenery to make it flow. This would be a better fit if you don’t want to rely on “said” so much. But I still think it’d be better to use “said,” just use it appropriately.

There’s a difference between saying something in an emotional state and using a dialogue tag. Dialogue tags are simple like said, replied, asked, etc. When you’re conveying emotions, it’d be called a “action tag,” but it’s different than dialogue tags.

If you don’t want to convey the action such as the person crying, you could use different tags that will portray this. Things like…

  • His voice broke.

  • Her voice trailed off.

  • He whimpered.

  • She whispered.

  • He stuttered.

  • She mumbled.

  • He stammered.

  • She wailed.

  • He mouthed.

^ Those are all the ones I can think of to convey sadness or fear. But again, you want to use these sparingly—if you don’t know that already. :wink:

5 Likes

I think if you want to convey a character being sad, you don’t necessarily need to do it by changing the word “said”. Instead of that you could possibly write them doing sad things. Like, you could say they’re slouched over, or their eyes look sad, or their voice was low. Things like that. That’s just my opinion though.

1 Like

E.g.
Instead of “He’s so dumb,” she SAID while laughing I’d rather “He’s so dumb,” she chortled.
Implying that she’s laughing. Get it now?

Shout out @SierraFarted

4 Likes

…I’m pretty sure chortled isn’t a dialogue tag.

It would be the same if you used: "He’s so dumb.” She laughed.
Just with a different word for laugh.

5 Likes

Honestly though, using “said” isn’t a big issue. It’s more an issue for writers than readers. In my opinion at least, when I’m reading a story the word said doesn’t mean much. But when I’m writing, it irritates me. You just kinda gotta deal with it for the most part.

I just needed the examples. I will always use action tags or whatever where it’s natural but I just want to use better words than said, just to add some something to the dialogue. Constant he said she said feels bland to me. So where it might be unavoidable in some places, where I can use a more effective word, I’d rather use that.

The problem is, my vocabulary isn’t as extensive as I’d like it to be, which is why I posted this. Just to expand my vocabulary.

3 Likes