TAGS are the active verbs writers use to indicate when a character speaks or the catch phrase a character uses to set him or her apart from the rest. For instance: “I am so tired of you!” said Abby. She snatched the photograph off the wall. “I am tired of this! I am tired of us. It’s not working. I want out!”
“Said” is the tag. It told us what Abby said.
But catch phrases are also tags. Here is an example. “Elementary, my dear Watson.” Everyone knows who says this phrase. This tag belongs to the detective Sherlock Holmes. When reading a novel where Sherlock is the main character, I do not need to say,”said Sherlock.” We all know he is saying it. This is his tag phrase.
However, many kidlit publishers want you to only use “said” in picture books. Me, I love other words such as exclaimed, shouted, replied, and others. If you are writing for the adult market, please cut “said”. Find other words that can evoke emotions and show that you have more than an elementary education.