You have just completed your novel. Now what? Here is how using the search feature in WORD to locate and evaluate the use of the word "said" in a novel can be a beneficial editing technique:

Variety in dialogue tags: Overusing the word "said" in dialogue tags can make the writing repetitive and monotonous. By reviewing and evaluating each instance of "said," you can identify opportunities to vary the dialogue tags with more descriptive alternatives (e.g., whispered, exclaimed, muttered), which can enhance the writing and provide a better sense of the characters' emotions or actions. I have recently changed one of my "saids" to "hedged!" 

Clarity in attribution: While dialogue tags are necessary to attribute speech to characters, using them excessively can lead to unnecessary repetition and potentially confuse readers. By reviewing the use of "said," you can ensure that dialogue tags are used effectively to clarify who is speaking without being overly repetitive.

You may feel 'hit over the head' with this example, but the point is important.

In the edited version, the use of "said" has been replaced with more descriptive and varied dialogue tags, such as "exclaimed," "agreed," "muttered," and "whispered." This change adds variety and depth to the dialogue, providing a clearer picture of the characters' emotions and reactions.

Before editing:

"I can't believe we made it out alive," John said.
"Yeah, it was a close call," Mary said.
"I never want to go through something like that again," John said.
"I know what you mean," Mary said.

After editing:

"I can't believe we made it out alive," John exclaimed.
"Yeah, it was a close call," Mary agreed.
"I never want to go through something like that again," John muttered.
"I know what you mean," Mary whispered.

Show, don't tell: Evaluating the use of "said" can also prompt you to consider incorporating more action or context around the dialogue to show how the characters are speaking or interacting. This can make the dialogue more dynamic and engaging for the reader.

Overall, by reviewing and evaluating the instances of "said" in their novel, you can improve the quality of the dialogue, enhance the characterization, and ensure that the writing is clear and engaging for readers.

In this revised version, the dialogue is interspersed with action and description, reducing the need for explicit dialogue tags. The characters' actions and reactions provide context and depth to the conversation, creating a more immersive and engaging reading experience.

"I can't believe we made it out alive." John's hands trembled as he clutched the torn fabric of his shirt, eyes wide with disbelief.
"Yeah, it was a close call." Mary's fingers traced the outlines of the cracks in the wall, a shiver running down her spine.
"I never want to go through something like that again." John paced back and forth, running a hand through his disheveled hair.
"I know what you mean." Mary gazed out the window, her voice barely above a whisper, lost in thought.

 Thoughtful consideration of dialogue tags in the editing process is essential to sharpen the dialogue, enrich character development, and elevate the overall storytelling experience. Off with your bad self now, and edit!