Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Tips: Dialogue Tags

Dialogue tags identify who is saying what in a conversation between characters, and keep the reader from getting lost or confused.

It's okay to use descriptive action words as dialogue tags. Sighed, moaned, panted, gasped, groaned, squealed, breathed, etc.

However, remember that you cannot hiss a sentence that has no sibilants, or spit a word that has no plosives:

“Maybe,” he hissed.

“How horrid,” she spat.  

And do not confuse action tags with dialogue tags:

“Sure,” she nodded.

“I don’t think so,” he frowned.

The quick and dirty test is whether you can add the words "the words" to the tag and have it still make sense:

She spat the words  - yes

He grumbled the words - yes

She whispered the words - yes

He shrugged the words - no

He nodded the words - no

She grinned the words - no

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