My students get upset when I tell them that pretty much the only word of attribution that they can use is said.
But choosing said, repetitive as it gets, has a couple of real benefits:
It doesn’t editorialize like “claimed,” or “emphasized” does
It is easy to skip over, and that’s a good thing because your reader focuses on the facts, not the writing
It lets you be more specific regarding emotional state. Compare:
- “Get out,” he shouted.
- “Get out,” he said in a voice that rang out into the adjacent hallway.
- “Get out,” he said, so loudly that his wife’s head jerked up from her computer screen in surprise.
One more tip: it’s tempting to say “Blah,” said Alvarez. It’s almost always better to say “Blah,” Alvarez said. This is the way people speak, and, again, it calls less attention to the writing so the focus can be on the content.