I consider myself a new writer. Although I can say I’ve been writing all my life, all my previous writing had been for school assignments. I hadn’t really given this whole “I’m going to write for myself” thing a go until a couple of years ago. I wrote my first actual, honest to god novel back in 2011–and it’s still utter crap. Since then, I’ve written five stories–finished only two of them, and one of those is a massively long fanfic.
As such, sometimes I feel like I’m not… I don’t know… qualified to give out writing advice. After all, I still feel like I have no idea what I’m doing. But I do think that I’ve figured at least a few things out–not completely, but I’ve got enough of a grasp on how these little things work I feel pretty confident in it.
One of those things are dialogue tags.
Like I said, I’ve written five novels so far, and I’ve edited quite a few more. And one thing that keeps coming up over and over again (yes, in my own writing as well–I’ll talk more about that in a second) is incorrect use of dialogue tags. And it’s such a small thing, really, in the grand scheme of plot and character development and theme and all those fancy literary words you prayed to forget but somehow have seeped into your brain like a insidious alien parasite. They’re not going to make or break your story.
But used incorrectly, they can really make your readers grit their teeth in frustration. And if your readers are frustrated, they’re going to stop reading.
So! Here’s what I’ve learned about these pesky suckers: