Monday, May 13, 2013

You Don't Say

I used the word “said” 294 times in the complete manuscript for SERENITY FALLS, all 343,843 words. 78 times in CHERRY HILL, which comes in at a light and lively 110, 931 words.  That’s actually less than once every thousand words in the course of four books. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that’s probably less than the average writer. I have no proof of that, of course, and I’m certainly not going to waste my time researching it. I have writing to do.  It’s not a bad word as words go, but neither is it my favorite. One writer I admire a great deal and consider a trusted friend once told me that I have an issue with the word.

I don’t think he’s wrong, per se, but I don’t completely agree with him either. I don’t like said, talked exclaimed, hollered, snarled, barked, whimpered, screamed (Okay, I DO like the word screamed, but I try not to go too crazy with it.) shrieked, bellowed, whispered or any of those other words, either. I’ll use them if I have to and if they fit, but I prefer finding different ways of indentifying the character speaking. I might have Joe pick up an ashtray and contemplate it before he speaks, because by and large once I’ve identified Joe at the start of the paragraph, the rest is easy.  Joe is the center of attention, so I can use that to avoid he said and she said.

It’s a matter of preference, but as a result of the preference, I shall now recuse myself from this particular essay. I will, however, gleefully answer questions and most likely won’t feel obligated to plead the Fifth Amendment in most cases.

Now that the cat is out of the bag I will announce formally that my secret project is an ALIENS novel, one of three coming out to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the ALIEN movie. Tim Lebbon is penning the first of them. Then I write one. Then the three are finished off by Christopher Golden. The stories are related, there are very distinct connections between them, but they are not a trilogy in the truest sense. They are, instead, related stand-alone novels. 

I think they're going to be a blast, but to be fair, I have a bias in this case.

I don;t have a cover as yet, but because I like pictures I now offer you the cover to SEVEN FORGES again. What can I say? I like the cover art and I'm a word-whore and therefore perfectly comfortable with pimping the bejesus out of my pending stories. 

Oh, and because the series is currently on my mind, here, have an ALIEN picture.


  1. They mostly come at night. Mostly.

  2. Very exciting project, James - congrats!

  3. Thank you kindly, ladies And Allison? I have always loved that quote!

  4. I LOVE Aliens so can't wait for the promised books...she said with a smile.

  5. "I adore you," he whispered. "Now back to writing that novel."

  6. Way to cut down on your use of 'said'! Big difference between the two works.

    And Congrats! That is exciting, even if you don't have a cover to pimp yet. (still love looking at Seven Forges). Your mention of Alien and the picture made me laugh. While I was pregnant I kept telling my husband that I felt like I was in an Alien movie, just waiting for it to come tearing out and wrec havoc on the world. Well....maybe not too far off?

  7. Congrats on the Alien book. I just watched the first two the other night. Always cool.

  8. " the complete manuscript for SERENITY FALLS, all 343,843 words."

    ~laughs maniacally~ Now I don't feel so badly about a WiP that topped 278k.

    Congrats on the Aliens work! I'm looking forward to Sept when I can get my hands on SEVEN FORGES.

  9. Well, KAK, I did have to break it into a trilogy for the mass market edition....