Question of the Week September 8

I read in an article that tag line should be of the format 'said Jack.' rather than 'Jack said.' Here is the article. What are your thoughts?

Ridiculous. I’ve never heard anything like that before, and no one else here has either. Actually, this has provided us with a good laugh. No one is going to reject your manuscript because you put Jack said. I have never consciously noticed the order of tags before. Now that I think about it, I both write and edit using both ways. For instance:
“We’re going up there,” Jack said.
“But I don’t want to,” said Jill. “I don’t want to carry that stupid pail of water all the way home.”
Mary and her lamb rolled their eyes. The twins had this fight all of the time.
I feel varying the saids adds variety. But as a general rule don’t worry about word order like that. Write whatever comes naturally and flows best with the story. Personally, I would go with the said Jack if I had to choose, but putting Jack said does not show a lack of professionalism.

However, everything else in that article was spot on, dead right, the way to go. Use correct punctuation? You’d better. Don’t have to many strange tags (tags other than said and asked)? Check. Again, your manuscript probably won’t get rejected solely because you use lots of strange tags, but it will prolong your editing.

Of course, if someone has actually been told differently in the past I'd love to hear it. Also I'd love to know the reason for their side on the great "said Jack vs. Jack said" debate.


tem2 said...

I can't recall the source, but I recall reading an article that was very much pro-"Jack said" in order to identify the speaker one word sooner and keep a reader in the story that much better.

I think better advice would be to eliminate dialogue tags entirely wherever possible and write so that the identity of the speaker is clear by context.

When I have to, my ear favors "said Jack" -- but never "said I" because that's just wrong. :D

"e" said...

The argument I hear is for "Jack said." Reasons being: 1) "said" has become one of those words that disappears to the reader - so give them the "who" and let them glaze past the obvious. 2) If replaced with a pronoun it would read "he said" rather than "said he" which, while not incorrect, is old english and wouldn't be used in modern time.
What do you think?

The Buried Editor said...

I think when it comes down to it, that you should read your work aloud and use the version that sounds best.