Friday, July 8, 2011
How to Use Dialogue Tags
Some writers will only use ‘said’ for their tags. At all cost they will avoid all other variations. Maybe they might allow the odd ‘ask’ or ‘reply’ in, but nothing else. Other writers will dress their tags up in froufrou: he instructed, she explained. The options are endless. Often these kind of tags are redundancies. They don’t add anything that’s already obvious in the dialogue.
Apart from the simple ‘said’ tags, I will use ones that add a dimension that’s not already evident in the speech. For example: ‘I hate you,’ he laughed. ‘Get down,’ she whispered.
Sometimes I’ll avoid the tag altogether by describing the character’s action before or after the dialogue. For example: Bob scratched his nose. ‘I don’t get it.’ In this case the need for the tag is eliminated by the action before the dialogue.
Of course, sometimes I let it get away from me. I forget to ask myself why I’m adding in a word and froufrou abounds. For that reason I love my critique partners – along with multiple edits.
Other than the standard ‘said’ tags, what do you use? Have you ever seen or tried an unusual method of dialogue tagging? How successful do you think it was?
A big thanks to Mark Noce for the inspiration for this post. Please visit his great blog here.
This weekend is my birthday weekend. My hubby may be whisking me away to an exotic location (or maybe a winery). Virtual cake for all! OR, if you’d like to make your own, such as the one in the picture, pick up a recipe from Dezz in the Kitchen