I'm working on my first fiction story. And one mechanical thing I struggle with is how to identify the speakers in dialog without constantly saying "Bob said", "Mary said", etc. Any ideas?
That is, I hate to write,
"I found an important clue," Bob said.
"What was that?", Sally said.
"The killer left behind a glove," Bob said.
"Perhaps we can identify him from fingerprints or DNA," Sally said.
Etc. Said, said, said.
I've tried varying up the verb. Saying "Jack replied" or "Sally exclaimed". That works to some extent, but I feel like it stands out to much. It's too obvious that I'm just doing it to avoid saying "said" all the time.
I've read many books where they leave out the speaker's name, just give the alternating dialog. But even when there are just two speakers this can get confusing, I often find myself saying, wait, which person said this? And if there are three or more characters in the conversation, you can't just count the odds and evens to figure out who's speaking.
I just came across a suggestion somewhere to make each character's speech distinct enough that it is obvious who is speaking. I can think of examples where that would work, like if one character is supposed to be a foreigner and so speaks in broken English, we probably don't need to identify him too often. Maybe another character is the mad scientist and always uses technical-sounding language. But beyond that, how can you do this without it sounding fake?