Posted by: anitanolan | June 14, 2012

Dialogue Tags

There are two parts to dialogue, what happens inside the quotes (the words that are spoken) and the tags, which are outside the dialogue and identify the speaker and/or his actions.

If you are going to use a dialogue tag to identify the speaker, said is usually best.

Of course, there are times you want to use asked, or whispered, or shouted.

But said tends to disappear more than most words like recounted, responded, replied and the like.

Sometimes, in an effort to avoid said, writers try to find different dialogue tags. And they keep reaching for different words to describe who is speaking. And soon, they are having their characters gasp or laugh or sigh a sentence, or are mis-using words like retaliated. (as in: “Go away,” he retaliated.)

The problem is you can’t gasp or laugh or sigh a sentence, and you don’t retaliate a sentence either.

So stick with said, or use Action Tags (we’ll cover that tomorrow.)

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