Said and asked are two words that become almost invisible in a story. They help identify who’s speaking—he said or she asked—but they don’t draw attention to themselves. (Unless used too often when not necessary.)
Recently I took advantage of Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature. I was trying to decide if I wanted to purchase a self-published book. What I found quickly made up my mind. With each book (I “peeked” into 5) I read about 10 pages. Although the writer did use “said” and “asked” and where it was appropriate, used no tag line at all to identify the speaker, she also chose a slew of other synonyms for said. I guess she felt she needed to give the reader some variety.
In those pages I looked at her characters offered, bellowed, hollered, intoned, implored, interjected, questioned, agreed, mused, argued, joked, replied, and inquired. The writer also had: She said aloud. I’m not sure how you say something that’s not aloud. (Whispered, murmured, or yelled, yes, but if not aloud, what?)
I don’t mean to pick on this author. I’m going to assume she’s a new writer and didn’t hire a good editor to go over her manuscripts before she published them. And the reason I’m writing about this here is I’m hoping any new writers reading this blog will take another look at their work. It’s all right to use a dialogue tag other than said or asked, but the moment we start using multiple variations, those tags cease to be invisible.
Also, often the variation isn’t necessary. “Do you want this?” she questioned.
The dialogue alone implies a question.
If two characters are arguing, generally the dialogue will show that. To add, she argued is redundant.
Substituting synonyms for said interrupts a story’s flow. I’m still trying to figure out how to intone something. Also, if using a synonym as a dialogue tag, make sure it is something that can actually be spoken. “I like your dress,” Gloria smiled. This is an example of an incorrectly used/punctuated tag. Change that to—“I like your dress.” Gloria smiled.—and it’s fine. Otherwise, I challenge to you smile words. Betcha can’t. (You can smile while you’re saying it, but you’ll look like a Cheshire cat.)
Just remember, you want your characters and your plot to be important, not how many synonyms you can use for said.
An even better example of what I’m trying to say can be found in Kristen Lamb’s blog, “Are You Blotching Your Dialogue” @ https://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2016/06/24/are-you-botching-your-dialogue/
Take a few minutes and read this article.