Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Another Random Question about Writing

Thought I might make this a weekly thing.  So here's today's question:

Do you think there is an unbreakable rule regarding (ad)verbs to carry dialogue?

I've heard it said many times that writers should never use any word other than "said" to carry dialogue and that adverbs should be avoided altogether.  What are your thoughts?

Personally, I use tonnes of other verbs to carry dialogue (the two most frequent being "told" and "admitted", though I'm also fond of "mumbled" and "screamed"), but I try to avoid awkward ones like "intoned" or "admonished" unless I'm trying to convey something really specific.  I also like to use verbs which you aren't technically supposed to apply to speech, like "smiled" and "sneered" - and I think in children's books, it's fair game to go ahead and include ones like "huffed" and "snarled", especially if your characters are animals.

1 comment:

Rhiannon said...


If people don't want to use adverbs, then they shouldn't have to use adverbs. At the same time, our language is FILLED with bloody adverbs.

I think the only true rule of writing is Never Tell Another Author How It's Done. Writing is an intensely personal process; if finding your voice involves using adverbs, use the damn adverbs - if you'd rather not, then don't. Anyone who tries to force such a rule on an author needs to be kicked in the 'nads.