This was one of the first — and worse, dare I say — pieces of writing advice I was ever given. Don’t use “said” too often. It’ll bore your reader. Try mixing it up a bit! And this, to a certain degree, I kind of agree with . . . but like I said, only to a certain point. “Said” is a simple word. It’s clear, and obvious, and somewhat invisible.
Because the idea of dialogue tags are to be invisible, right?
You want to fully embody your reader in your works, and I’ve found that when you get “creative” with your dialogue tags, I personally find that it pulls me from the story.
“Said” is not a bad word. “Said” shouldn’t be avoided. “Said” isn’t a boring word.
So how do you know when to use “said”, and when it’s okay to get a little bit creative?
I say, use other words (eg, “whispered”, “hissed”, “shrieked”, “snapped”, etc.) sparingly . . . but don’t avoid them. Just ask yourself this: Is it really necessary? If Yes, then feel free to use it! If No, then don’t. And if I don’t know if your answer . . . then stick to “said”. And if you’re still really unsure, then ask yourself, Does this piece of dialogue even need a dialogue tag? You might find your answer there, too.