Better Words than 'Said'
The word 'said' is often over-used in dialogue, giving away nothing of the mood, condition or tone of the speaker, or of the context. It has been the scourge of English teachers, charged with improving the quality of students' writing, for many years. "Oh, don't worry. Just use an adverb like 'angrily', or an adverbial phrase like 'with a mischievous smile'!" (Note: Interesting use of punctuation, David!)
However, conveying mood, tone and atmosphere can be achieved even more effectively, by using synonyms. Over a period of several years, I worked with 13 year-olds and challenged them to come up with alternatives. In those halcyon days of teaching, bribery and threats of a very unpleasant death were my staple motivational tools! In one lesson students created a list of 20, with examples of their use. Thereafter, any student who was able to add to the list, was rewarded with a pear drop, as long as there was a good example of its use in context.
For example: "I think this is a complete waste of time!" opined Jason, who, five minutes later, was to be found spread-eagled on the school field.
Meanwhile, Alison, who had the most wonderfully sarcastic smile, worthy of Sir Humphrey Appleby in Yes Minister, came up with this gem, well worthy of a pear drop: "I will have my revenge, Sir!" avowed Alison, with an unnerving smile, and a mischievous glint in her eye!
So, here's the list, and if you can add any more, please get in touch:
accused added admitted advised alleged announced apologised argued asked asserted assured avowed babbled barked bayed begged belched bellowed blabbed bleated blurted boasted brayed breathed burped cackled cautioned challenged chanted cheeped cheered chirped chirruped choked chorused chuckled claimed clamoured clucked commanded commented conceded confessed confided confirmed cooed corrected corroborated coughed cried croaked crowed decided declared decreed demanded disclosed dissented dribbled droned echoed ejaculated emphasised enthused enunciated exclaimed exhorted expressed fumed gabbled gesticulated giggled grinned grizzled groaned growled grumbled grunted guaranteed guessed gushed hiccuped hissed hollared honked hooted howled hummed implied improvised indicated insinuated insisted instructed interjected interrupted intimated intoned laughed lisped maintained miaowed mimicked moaned mouthed mumbled murmured mused muttered nagged neighed observed opined ordered panted pleaded pledged prattled prayed promised pronounced protested purred quacked quoted raged ranted raved recited reiterated repeated replied revealed roared sang screamed seethed shouted shrieked shrugged sighed slobbered slurred smiled snapped sneezed sniffed snored snorted sobbed squawked squeaked squealed stammered stated stressed stuttered suggested supposed swore thought thundered trilled tweeted twittered urged uttered volunteered wailed warned wept wheezed whimpered whined whinged whispered whistled yawned yelled yelped