1

I find myself repeatedly saying "he/she hesitated" when I feel like there's something else I could say. I've been experimenting but with the character in question, all I can think of is, "he croaked" which isn't quite right. So, how would you describe someone who hesitates before speaking?

2

1 Answer 1

3

Here is a tip:

Don't tell the reader that the answer is 4, instead tell them the answer is 2+2

Don't tell the reader that a character is hestitating, instead find a way a round-about way of describing the hesitation.

Key-words would be, for example:

  • Fear
  • Uncertainty
  • Brief pause
  • Unwillingness

There's nothing wrong with being forthcoming with it either, it's a matter of trying to find a good balance of show and tell.

There's no pattern to follow when it comes to show and tell; it's up to you to figure out the balance for your story.

2
  • 1
    This is a good answer. Look for other ways to convey the uncertainty. In addition to the ideas above, you can use an occasional he/she stammered, "dialog." Or dig deeper than the hesitation--use immersion to imply the nerves. This was too like the grilling before the thesis committee, and he/she felt as unprepared now as then. "dialog." Or, Caught off-guard, he/she said, "dialog". Or simply fill in the space with beats (a few sentences) and then say, Finally, he/she broke the silence. "Dialog." Keep at it, and notice tricks in your reading and try them out.
    – SFWriter
    Jul 22, 2022 at 15:53
  • @SFWriter I find 'stammer' is wildly overused by writers looking to get away from too many 'he said's. In practice there aren't many situations where people, who don't have a speech impediment, utter words falteringly or make involuntary stops and repetitions. It isn't a good synonym for voluntary hesitation.
    – Spagirl
    Jul 25, 2022 at 11:04

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.