I don't think there's a specific word for that, so how would you describe it?

The scene is that someone shouts something while they're in the bathroom, brushing their teeth. It's still intelligible, but it's a bit harder to understand because they basically have toothpaste foam in their mouth.

How do I convey that, especially after a dialogue tag? Like "Blah blah blah" she said, ___.

The same way you can describe someone talking with their mouth full like: "'... ,' he said, his speech slurred from the mouthful of peas he had just gobbled up."

(English is my second language, so I'm sorry if that last example was weird.)

2 Answers 2


It depends on your intent with the scene.

If you think a specific action — talking while brushing ones teeth — will make the setting or moment more relatable or more visualizable then just narrator it like you’ve already written it: Alice talked around her toothbrush as she explained how cats ruled the planet.

Or share it from the perspective of whomever Alice is talking to. How do they feel about Alice talking to them like that? Are they annoyed or confused? Or more like ‘That is so Alice.’

When it comes to showing versus telling, framing a character’s reactions counts as showing because we are conscious creatures and can imagine a lot from understanding how someone feels or views a situation

  • Thank you for your ideas, "Alice talked around her toothbrush" was the kind of expression I needed, I didn't know I could phrase it like that! Thank you!
    – Flibidi
    Commented Mar 28 at 15:57
  • you're welcome. One thing that I think about writing that is important to learn is to erase any expectation of what your writing should look like.
    – EDL
    Commented Mar 28 at 22:56

We cannot write your story for you, and asking that is off topic and will get your question closed. But here are a few things you can do to find out how to describe that scene:

  • Go to the bathroom, brush your teeth, and try to shout or say something. You might want to face into the shower so as not to splatter the mirror with toothpaste. Observe the way the sounds are changed.
  • Sit down (after you rinsed your mouth) and try and describe what you observed without trying to write well. Think of this as brainstorming.
  • If you can think of some words that well fit your observation, add them to your brainstorming list, but don't obsess about it if you cannot think of any.
  • If you want, search books.google.com for something like "said brushed teeth" and similar search phrases. See what comes up. Maybe someone else has written something similar and you can see how they described it. Don't copy! But learn from the examples.
  • Now, from everything you have collected, try and write a well-phrased description. Write a few alternatives, play with different words and different word order. Try and keep it brief but be vivid.

This, of course, works best if you write in your mother tongue, where most of the words are at your disposal. If you want to write in a language you don't fully command, you'll always be up against your lack of words and potential usage mistakes. I cannot help you with that, except recommend you learn the language better and then write a novel in it.

  • Thank you for the books.google.com suggestion, I'll look that up! And I'm not writing a novel, I write short stories to train my English skills; asking these questions is part of what I do to improve.
    – Flibidi
    Commented Mar 28 at 16:04
  • @Flibidi If you write to learn English, you might want to ask similar questions on english.stackexchange.com or els.stackexchange.com. This isn't really a site for questions about how to say things in English. Many of the users here do not even write in English (me, for example) and not everyone here knows English well enough to give linguistic advice.
    – Ben
    Commented Mar 28 at 16:11
  • You think I should ask the same question over there? I thought that site was for questions about linguistics, grammar or translations, this question seems to be more about story-telling and descriptions to me. If you are talking about future interrogations I may have about the English language itself, thank you! But do you think I should move this question to the other site?
    – Flibidi
    Commented Mar 28 at 16:18
  • @Flibidi If I understand you correctly, you do not have a writing problem, but a problem finding the right words because your English is not good enough. That is a question that fits better on one of the two sites. For example, English.SE has the tags "single-word-requests" and "phrase-requests", for when you search for words and phrases respectively. Your present questions seems to fit a phrase request quite well. You could try and ask it there and see what answers you get and then base your future questions on that experience.
    – Ben
    Commented Mar 28 at 16:26

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