Shared from Chris Graham – The Story Reading Ape
He Said / She Said: Dialogue Tags
“Can you pass the salt?” Richard asked.
“Like hell,” Katherine muttered.
“Did you say something, sweetie?” Richard continued.
“I will not pass you the salt!” Katherine shouted.
And on we go, another happy marriage on the rocks. So, what’s wrong with this exchange? It’s a combination of several things, but we’re going to focus on one: dialogue tags.
In Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Renni Browne and Dave King start their chapter on dialogue mechanics by quoting a New York Times reviewer discussing a book by Mr. Robert Ludlum:
Characters in The Bourne Ultimatum seldom “say” anything. Instead, they cry, interject, interrupt, muse, state, counter, conclude, mumble, whisper … intone, roar, exclaim, fume, explode, mutter.
Using words such as “roared” or “muttered” convey emotion and character, true. But I’m sorry to say, it’s taking the easy way out. Using…
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