For narrative writing, sometimes you want to use a verb other than “he says” or “she said.” This is a cheatsheet to help you break out of that rut.

Variation Possibilities
Explanatory answered, acknowledged, explained, proposed,
replied, responded, retorted
Tone: Anger fumed, raged, scolded, shrieked, shouted
Tone: Argumentative/Oppositional argued, contended, countered, cried out, demanded, dictated,
emphasized, insisted, maintained, ordered, preached, proclaimed
Tone: Happy giggled, joked, laughed
Tone: Sad agonized, cried, mourned, screamed, sobbed, wept
Tone: Suggestive hinted, implied, insinuated, intimated, suggested
Tone: Tired/Pleading begged, implored, mumbled, murmured, muttered, pleaded, whispered
Tone: Understanding accepted, agreed, empathized, sympathized
Tone: Miscellaneous cackled, drawled, exclaimed

This article has 25 comments

  1. Sona Reply

    What would you use if you had to do a character that is sad but happy and anouncing something

  2. Hannah Reply

    Hello, this word list helped me a lot, I have learned a lot of different words

  3. Iris Reply

    what if i am using character who is shy and what words i would use say for that?

  4. hannah Reply

    it would be helpful if there were words for called as i am writing a story

  5. Anonymous Reply

    Hey! Thanks for this list! It will help in my 6th grade writing class but I have a question.
    What if a chracater is to speak in a nervous tone, or a bully-like tone. It would mean a lot that you could find these answers and possibly more tones for perfect essay writing! But I will definetly use these tips in my essay. thanks!

  6. Michael Alonso Reply

    If you plan to have talking animals, you can also use “yowled”, “mewed”, “bark”, “yipped”, “squawked” and other depending on the animal.

    Crackled, fizzled, beeped and similar can be used for mechanical creatures.

    • Starry_Skies1324

      thanks this helps a lot with animal and other misc stuff!

  7. Kayla Reply

    Thank you. This is going to help me on my essay, and my writing. I’m 14 and I write novel type books in my spare time, if I have any at all.

  8. Joanna Sherwood Reply

    Thank you for these life saving tips! There really going to help me with my book, it’s SciFi and has a lot of dialog. But you need another tone, like chat or something. Because I wanna find words that I can use in normal chat.

  9. Cassey J Reply

    thank you. I am 14 and writing a novel that has a lot of dialog. This really helped me!

  10. Lynda Finn Reply

    What a useful list. Thankyou. May I add – cautioned, yelled, roared, allowed (agreement) tittered, chuckled, hissed, growled. I’ve seen ’empathised’ in books but that’s not strictly accurate as empathy is the ability to *feel* what someone else is feeling and often used quite wrongly.

    You can sympathise, as that is understanding, but not empathise. :)

    Also, to any budding writers, there are many words which even experienced writers use wrong (and get them past lazy editors! ) One is “prone” – if a person is lying prone, they are face down (look it up in the dictionary is my rule) this leads to hilarious visual situations such as when someone is ‘lying prone and gazing at the stars’ !! The other word which really annoys is ‘brackish” this is a mixture of salt and fresh water, as one might find in an estuary, it does NOT mean dirty water, as is so often implied.
    The other important thing is to make your clauses agree. To write, “Driving in to work, a tree fell on Mary’s car” means the tree was driving. :)
    ‘Driving in to work, Mary’s car was hit by a tree’ – is better

    “She was so tired she jumped into the bed in her underclothes” recently caused me to laugh out loud.

    The rule here is to ask yourself “what or who is that first clause about?” The 2nd clause should be about that too.

  11. Dan Reply

    Thanks a lot for these ! :] Rachelle is just stupid and ignorant. She won’t get far in life with her attitude.

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