Fiction in the hands of a seasoned scholar can be a thing of beauty. Blog posts that show a more personal side of the dutiful professor are a breath of fresh air. It’s not always easy to transition from scholarly writing to something more casual, and moving from nonfiction to fiction can involve plenty of hurdles. Still, good historians often make good storytellers and I encourage them to pursue that side of their craft.
A while back, I stumbled upon a post that offered some good writing and self-editing tips. But there was one that I had some reservations about.
#8. Ditch extraneous tags when writing dialog. If the reader knows who’s speaking, you don’t need to tell them over and over - especially in a scene with only two characters. Flowery verbs such as quizzed, extrapolated, exclaimed, and interjected, stick out. Instead, use said and asked, with an occasional replied or answered.
Okay, I definitely agree with the first part. But the second...I never would have guessed that apparently I’m a proponent of “flowery verbs.”
Let’s take a quick look.
Said shows that words have been spoken. Interjected suggests there was an interruption. Exclaimed is high-energy. Extrapolated suggests thoughtfulness or parsing of information.
Asked shows a question has been posed. Quizzed gives a sense of tension or urgency in a question. Queried suggests the gathering or contemplation of many thoughts associated with a question. Wondered could be a way to ask a question silently.
I will submit that using “flowery verbs” should be done in moderation, but they can add more dimension to writing and can help bring out the personality of the writer. Use them wisely, but feel free to use them.
So, flowery verbs… do you love them or hate them? Do they show up in your own writing?