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I'm looking for a dialog tag for when someone is in awe and saying something along the lines of "oooooo!" or "wooooooow!"

"Oooooooo!" they ______ed.

Does it exist? If so, what is it?

18

"Wooow!" they marvelled.

To marvel is the word that comes to my mind in this case.

But in general you should realize that often it's not that important to find the one word to describe something. It may be hard for your audience to understand - after all it's hard for you to come up with it. There is a difference between active and passive vocabulary, but the point still stands. Have a look at my answer to Describing body language? for a longer discussion about always trying to find the one word.

You may want to consider some longer alternatives, such as:

"Wooow" they exclaimed in awe of what they just saw.

or

"Wooow" they said, smitten with amazement.

or

"Wooow" they exclaimed in an astonished voice.

or

"Wooow" they said, amazed by what they had just seen.

Often to say is good enough if you then proceed to describe in detail how your character reacts.

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    Perhaps gasped, also, with a few context clues to narrow it down? – Todd Wilcox Feb 20 '18 at 15:46
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How many ways are there to say "Oooooooo!" Only one that I can think of. Therefore the only dialog tag you need is "said".

The only reason to use a dialogue tag other than "said" is if the intonation of the dialogue is not clear either from the words themselves or from the context in which they are uttered. (If there is more than one way to say "Oooooooo!" then I have to think it should be clear from the context in which it is uttered, in which case, again, the only dialogue tag you need is "said".)

Now, if the intonation is counter to what the context suggests, then there is grounds for using an alternate dialogue tag.

"Yippee," he grumbled.

But by and large you should focus on making the intonation apparent from the context in which it is uttered. If it is clear from the context, it is superfluous and distracting to doubled down on the effect with a descriptive dialogue tag.

In fact, I think it would be a pretty good rule of thumb, covering at least 99% of all cases, to say that if you feel the need of a dialogue tag other than said, it is an indication that you need to rework the dialogue or the setting in which it occurs so that the intonation is apparent without any additional signaling.

Edit to address Pierre Arlaud's question: But why stick with "said" rather than throw in a variety of dialogue tags? Some words are purely structural. They exist simply to establish grammatical relationships and the reader does not read anything else into them.

"Hello" said John.

Is equivalent to:

John: Hello

But when you add another dialogue tag, you are adding information.

"Hello" squealed John.

What you don't want to do in writing is repeat something that is already in evidence. This produces writing that calls attention to itself rather than letting the writer see through it to the scene being described. You only want to add information to a scene if doing so adds to or refines what has already been said.

Most of the time, alternate dialogue tags don't add to or refine what has been said because the character's inflection is already obvious from the words or the context in which it is spoken.

So, while it is occasionally necessary to supply an alternate dialogue tag to supply inflection information that is otherwise not obvious from the words or context, you should only do so where this is the case and where there is no clean way to make the inflection obvious from the words or context.

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    The last sentence is golden and makes me wonder if all writers should try writing a short script or screenplay as a practice in conveying a scene solely with dialog. Listening to old radio dramas is also good study material for how to use dialog to do much more than simply say stuff. – Todd Wilcox Feb 20 '18 at 15:48
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    @azorahai Well, that would certainly provide context! – user16226 Feb 20 '18 at 21:32
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    So just because the need to use another dialogue tag than "said" is absent, one should refrain oneself from ever using any other verbs? – Pierre Arlaud Feb 21 '18 at 10:40
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    @PierreArlaud "Said" is so common that readers just sort of absorb in unconsciously. So it is often preferable because it will flow better to most readers. – Harabeck Feb 21 '18 at 22:36
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    One other reason to use a dialogue tag is for comedic effect. “Hodor,” said Hodor. “Hodor,” Bran agreed. – user2686 Feb 23 '18 at 21:41
4

I can't think of a definitive go-to one per se; there's probably many ways to express this.

Exclaimed, breathed, said softly, said incredulously, murmured.

4

I agree with @MarkBaker, that, in this case, there aren't many ways to express the line your character says.

However, you could try to show something about the character that matches his/her behavior/reaction, if you wanna make it more obvious e.g.:

"Oooooo!" they said, standing for a moment with glowing eyes and their mouth still open.

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    I like this, it's a good example of showing rather than telling. – user27611 Feb 20 '18 at 19:26
1

gasped

"Oooooooo!" they gasped. Their eyes were like saucers.

1

One option you may want to keep in mind is that ooh or ooh and aah can actually be used as a verb, in place of writing out "ooooo" as dialog. Something like "Ooooo!" say said with awe can be replaced with something like

They oohed in awe/wonder.

or, of course,

They oohed and aahed (at the wondrous sight).

As a bare sentence this sounds a bit primitive, but depending on context it can be less jarring than spelling out the interjection, and also cleanly conveys a sense that some people may have said "wow" while others used "ooo" (with varying numbers of Os and exclamation marks) or some other exclamation.

If you have other dialog for your character to say, oohed can even be its own dialog descriptor. For example:

[H]e still remembers hitting poor Jasper Moss in the face with a baseball, Jasper distracted by an airplane, "An L 10–11," he oohed right before the ball smacked his nose . . . .
David Gilbbert, The Normals: A Novel

Bacharach, clutching his first Oscar, alleged he was overwhelmed. "Two of them, it's fantastic," he oohed, and added: "I'll put them on the breakfast table" . . . .
Films in Review Vol. 21, snippet view

Just don't combine an interjection with the oohed tag:

*"Wow!" they oohed.

0

Swoon

It could work, depending on the context of the "Ooooo!"

Definition: "be emotionally affected by someone or something that one admires; become ecstatic"

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