So, today I have a post over on the RRFS blog about dialogue tags which is probably pretty similar to the one I did last year here on this blog. I’ve learned a couple of things since then, (and not just about dialogue tags), and I’m going to be doing a series of posts over there about tips and tricks to editing your own work, especially if you’re a new-ish writer.
Feel free to take a look at the original post using the link above for a more detailed post. For now, here’s a really short and sweet version of it.
Read your work out loud and ask yourself these questions about your dialogue tags:
1) Is it clear who’s speaking what line?
2) Does each separate speaker have their own paragraph?
3) Am I using a word too repetitiously? (e.g.: does “said” appear on the page more than five times? Is it noticeable when I read the page out loud?)
4) Am I using the correct word? Does reading the page out loud make it sound like I am auditioning for a villain’s role in a melodrama?
Remember that dialogue tags don’t have to be a variant of he said or she said. You can use pieces of action to identify speakers just as well, like “Carolyn waved. ‘Hey girl!'” Not only is “Carolyn waved” not a variant of he said/she said but also adds variety and character movement when there otherwise wouldn’t be any. In most cases, it’s more interesting to read.
Next time I’ll be talking about tenses, so be sure to check it out.