Stephen King writing methods...

Xanderous

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I've been listening to his book, "On Writing." A couple nuggets that I've pulled from it are his opinions on the following:
  • Adverbs are of the devil
  • Dialogue attribution should be kept to he said/she said and don't go crazy with "he jabbed back" and so on.

I understand the omitting of adverbs as much as you can, but I'm interested to know everyone's thoughts on dialogue attribution.
 

Randy M.

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The emotion of the moment should be implicit in the dialog. He said/she said is about as invisible in prose as "and" is in poetry. He/she asked, would be okay, though if you already established a give and take between characters, a simple question mark might do. But do you ever really need "she exclaimed" or "he ratta-tat-tatted" or "he burst out like sewage from a broken pipe"?

Okay, I'm already trying to think where I could use that last, but the other two not so much.
 

Astro Pen

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He is right. I think said and asked (and possibly replied ) are almost invisible, they are scanned much like punctuation.
Whereas retorted, enquired, reciprocated, along with their fancy Edwardian sounding pals, sound like a 14 year old trying to write like a grown-up.
My first efforts were full of them. I had to go back and replace them with all 'said' discretely dropping them in the bin never to be seen again.
I never looked back :cool:
 

Brian G Turner

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When I first started writing I made a big effort to find all the different ways of saying "said" without using that word. I think a lot of people new to writing do. But, really text does read quite badly when done that way - said is a perfectly fine and neutral term to use. :)
 

Astro Pen

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I admit that in my flights of fancy I do use a scattering of adverbs for my comfort and convenience, but only a few, fitting easily in the hand luggage to avoid a penalty at reception.
 

Phyrebrat

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thoughts on dialogue attribution.

As has been said upthread, if you can chose better words so that a sentence, clause whatever does heavier lifting, you're good. Also, reading aloud what you've written for a scene often helps. In extended dialogue exchanges, you can drop the tags altogether once the reader knows, and use full stops with description of character action. E.g. He thumped the desk. 'You can't handle the truth!'

As far as adverbs go, it's fine to use them, but really I try to do so only to make things clearer for a reader rather than descriptively. Sometimes you have to use an adverb if there has been no clue to the reader how a character has done something in the preceding sentence/clause/moment. In those cases, it's probably a good idea to check that you've used the strongest words or syntax such that an adverb would not be required.

I used 'sleepily' recently as a character who had been asleep in the scene woke and interjected something. Having had her sleeping the whole time, and then to join the convo is a bit clunky, and to write that she woke up and then said something would unnecessarily increase word count. 'Ma said sleepily' worked fine.

I'm a firm believer in the more you write, the more you'll understand. When it comes to writing - esp crits - you will get a multitude of opinions that can confuse. Only you know what is right for your story in terms of word tone and rhythm, and often advice can be counter-productive. Someone may have a well-intentioned idea on how you should write a sentence in your WIP but they won't have your deep knowledge of the gestalt and therefore the advice can be - quite simply - wrong.
 

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