Learning tags and how to write them - Part twoA Lesson by Yhoretta
Explains the proper way to forgo dialogue tags, and when it is okay to do so.
In writing dialogue, it is not always necessary to have tags with every single line of the conversation. In fact, you may look pretty silly if you do. Sometimes, you can use an action before/after the spoken words to show who it is and why:
A - Marissa flicked through the channels. 'There's never anything good on.'
B - 'Tell me about it.' I nodded sympathetically.
In both examples, there are no dialogue tags, and the lines of action begin new sentences because they are not tied directly to the speech. Don't do this all the time, but it helps spice things up a bit. You don't want a conversation that goes like this:
C - 'There's never anything good on,' she said.
'Tell me about it,' I said.
'Wanna get a bite to eat?' she said.
'Nah,' I said.
'Fine,' she said.
How about taking out some of the tags? When dialogue is all by itself, it means we already know who's talking and don't need a reminder, unless their emotion or something changes. Let's try it:
D - 'There's never anything good on,' she said.
'Tell me about it,' I replied.
'Wanna get a bite to eat?'
'Fine.' She rolled over irritably and snuggled into the sofa.
With this I've used both techniques to make the conversation a little bit more interesting, though it's not the best dialogue in the first place (that's another lesson entirely). Remember, only drop everything if you've already established the speaker. This move isn't always required, but helps move the conversation along, and the same goes for the action tag, which gives more depth to the speech.
In the next lesson, I'll explain how to have characters interrupt each other, finish each other's sentences, and how to have a dialogue tag in the middle of dialogue.
Added on May 2, 2014
Last Updated on May 2, 2014
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