…He Said. Did He? Really? DID? HE?

hairlessmonkeyI’m here to dispel a myth. Okay, maybe not a myth. Maybe a fantasy.

All right, it’s neither myth or fantasy. Geesh you guys are tough.

Maybe an anomaly?

Perhaps a gargantuan goliath gut-wrenching writerly wrongness.

WHATEVER.

Yeah, I stretched for that one. But, it was only to save YOU from ME. Yeah, I’m that kinda guy. Then, I’m also this guy.

This is about the treachery that is pathetic writing. It’s what some fuckwits think is good technique. It’s what said fuckwits don’t know. Or understand.

It’s a metric fuckbucket, a shit-ton worth of information in one rule. Uno. Eins. Un.

“Did you take my banana?” the hairless monkey said.

I know-I know. You’ve tossed your hands in the air…

You haven’t?

You should. I’ll wait. (Pssst. Just do it.)

*looks over shoulder to see, yup, your hands are in the air*

You’re asking why the depilous primate would use the dialogue tag of “said” when clearly asking a question. I mean, of course you would.

You’re even shaking your head. (DO IT NOW.)

You’re asking, Chris, shouldn’t the author have used the attribution of “asked” since it’s a question?

YES.

Yes. *closes eyes. drops and shakes head. takes deep breath*

I’ve come across this a lot lately. Too much, in fact.

It’s jolting.

Painful.

Slows the reading down.

Hurts the eyes.

Confuses the brain.

Irritates the inner core of a reader. Any reader.

I’m not gonna make this a complete post about all the finer points of writing dialogue. Maybe next time. This is for one thing and one thing only – using the attribution of “asked” when the character in fiction ASKS a question.

Here’s the deal inkslingers, questions are ASKED. Always.

They are never said. Ever.

Let’s take a quick peek, shall we?

Hold on, here we go.

One Rule To Asking Dialogue Questions And One Rule Only.

1. KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid

When writing questions in dialogue the character ALWAYS asks the questions. He/she never says the question. NEVER.

“Where the hell am I?” the confused unicorn said.

“Where the hell am I?” the confused unicorn asked.

“Arrrhuggghhhhh?” the zombie said.

“Arrrhuggghhhhh?” the zombie asked.

Maybe that one wasn’t very clear but, c’mon, it’s obviously a question.

“Do you want three wishes.” the magic kangaroo said.

“Do you want three wishes?” the magic kangaroo asked.

In conclusion – yes, this is over – BEFORE you rush out and hit send on your most recent submission to any publication, re-read your story. Find those pesky little dialogue attributions where you may have erred – seriously puked the prose – and correct the “said” in obvious questions with “asked”.

We all thank you in advance.

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