Learning tags and how to write them - Part one

Learning tags and how to write them - Part one

A Lesson by Yhoretta

Explains the proper way to use tags to describe who is talking and how they are doing it.


When writing dialogue, a tag is the section of words placed before or after dialogue to show how it is being spoken, such as 'she said', 'he said', etc. A common mistake by new authors is to add it in like a new sentence, like this:

A - 'Come down here.' She said.

This is incorrect, and you'll find that no published books will have their dialogue like this. The tag is always part of the same sentence as the dialogue, and what do we do when we want to lengthen a sentence? We put a comma, and the same goes for a dialogue tag. Observe how I do this:

B - 'Come down here,' she said. 

C - She said, 'Come down here.'

Both of the above examples are correct. If you'll notice with example B, the "s" in she is not capitalised, because it is a continuation of the same sentence, whereas in example C, the s is capitalised because it is the beginning of the sentence, and there's a comma after the word "said" because the dialogue follows. You may be wondering why "Come" has a capital C in the second example. Well, the reason for this is that, although they are both in the same sentence, the dialogue is always a sentence (or more) of it's own, so while the tag is a continuation, the dialogue must always start with a capital. I know, it's confusing, but this really is how it works, hehe!

In the next lesson I will show you how and when it is alright to do away with dialogue tags all together, and how to utilise both techniques to create a realistic conversation.

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Added on May 2, 2014
Last Updated on May 2, 2014
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New Zealand

I'm just an author who does what she does for the love of doing what she does...and also speaking about herself in the third person; that's important.