Writing Tips - 'better' words than 'said'

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  • Point out that the words presented here convey a lot more meaning than a simple 'said'. In many cases can convey emotion.

  • Role play and dramatise situations where these words can be used for maximum impact.

    - One of my favourites is to do a little play building where the phrase, 'What are you doing?' has to be used to portray: anger, surprise, interest, suspicion, intrigue, humour, dismay etc

  • Substitute some of these words for 'said' in existing sentences and ask the students to comment on how the sentence has changed.

  • Make Your Own Word Wall - collect your own 'said' words during reading sessions and each time another way of saying 'said' is discovered write it up on a large sheet of paper hung on the wall.

  • The power of this activity comes from having the children collect their own words.

  • Avoid repetition of 'said' (Unless you wish to convey bordom or the fact that a person is going on and on and on)

  • Reference chains - go through a passage from a writer that the children think is good. Record the ways the characters say 'said' over a couple of pages. You'll find something like this...

said, echoed, exclaimed, exploded, muttered,
said, snapped, demanded

Next take a piece of writing done by a child (I usually keep a few from previous years) and track the 'said' words. Mostly it will look like this...

said, said, said, said, said, said

  • Have the students go back through a piece of their writing and track the 'said' words and then substitute other more descriptive words into their narratives. (I find this best done in small groups or pairs the first few times you do it)


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