While I think ‘said’ doesn’t quite deserve its sometimes problematic reputation, I do admit that it can get overused. Overused a lot and overused quickly.
Sometimes I find myself struggling with whether I should use said, something else, nothing at all, or let an action describe that they’re talking/holding a conversation. All writers struggle with it, and its usually not until we’re editing (sometimes for the 5th or 15th time) that we realize if we’ve made a mistake or not.
When I do decide to use another word in place of ‘said’, that can be its own struggle. So if you ever get stuck like I do – here are some helpful charts put together that might help make the struggle a little more manageable –