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Thread: dialog tags

  1. #1
    chris redd
    Guest

    dialog tags

    I was wondering, Is adding dialog tags a bad thing?



  2. #2
    Joe Zeff
    Guest

    Re: dialog tags

    No, they're a needed part of narration. Without them, how can you tell who said what, especially in a long dialog. You also need them to show how things were said.

  3. #3
    Bill Snodgrass
    Guest

    Re: dialog tags

    But, tags (aka attributions) can be omitted sometimes to make the conversation flow better.

    Example

    "Well, that's nice," Bob said.

    "Thanks. I am proud of it." Mary held up her work proudly.

    "How long did it take you to make it?"

    "Oh, just a few days. This one was easy."

    Bob nodded, then added, "Well it really is nice."


    In this silly example, it should be clear who is speaking. Note in the second line the action (not a tag) tells us who is speaking.

    I'd suggest mixing it up. It is not hard to go three or four exchanges without an attribution, when only two characters are involved.

    Bill Snodgrass
    www. billsnodgrass.com
    www.theswordreview.com

  4. #4
    Kris T
    Guest

    Re: dialog tags

    Also, I would avoid overdone dialogue tags.

    For example:

    "I don't want to go," she said with her brow furrowed.
    "Well, you have to," he said stubbornly.
    "But, I HATE camp!" she said, angrily.

    The reader can figure all that out.

    Also be careful of too much of this:

    "I love you," Dan said.
    "I love you, too," said Sheila.
    "Sheila," said Dan, "do you think you'd like to go with me to Madagascar?"
    "Oh, Dan," said Sheila, "I thought you'd never ask!"
    "That's great!" said Dan, "because our bags are already packed and being loaded into my private Boeing 727 as we speak!"
    "But Dan," said Sheila, "I can't fly. I have an inner ear thing."

    Often, you can just add "so & so said" when we might need a reminder, like after a few lines of dialogue.

    The above comment, that movement and behavior contributes to dialogue, is a good one, too. They don't have to have "said" anything, but they could be performing some kind of action, which will also let us know who's talking and what they're doing while they're talking (which can contribute greatly to mood).

  5. #5
    Joe Zeff
    Guest

    Re: dialog tags

    You can also vary where in the sentence you put the tag; different places have different effets.

    "It's time to go," he said.

    He said, "It's time to go."

    "It's time," he said, "to go."

    Each one gives a distinctive feel to the line. Use whichever works best in that particular location, and don't be afraid to vary them.

  6. #6
    Kris T
    Guest

    Re: dialog tags

    Little things like that are what make writing so much fun.

  7. #7
    chris redd
    Guest

    Re: dialog tags

    So how do you know when you have to many dialog tags. The reason I asked is because I have recieved replies concerning this issue, and now I would like to get some clearity on the matter. Also how do you switch from dialog to action?

  8. #8
    Bill Snodgrass
    Guest

    Re: dialog tags

    You decide how many to use. Too many is your call.

    If you can do without them, leave them out. That will make your fiction flow more easily.

    On the other hand, when people (readers) start getting confused, you need more. I'm afraid there is no set rule--nothing like every three exchanges, add an attribution. This is one of the "art" aspects.

    I am not sure I understand your question about switching from action to dialog. Do you mean punctuation-wise?



    Bill Snodgrass
    www. billsnodgrass.com
    www.theswordreview.com

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