EDITING 101: 06 – He Said / She Said: Dialogue Tags…

In Part 6 of Editing 101, Susan Uttendorfsky discusses dialogue tags and action tags. I found this very enlightening and think it’s something that a lot of writers struggle with. Hop over to The Story Reading Ape’s blog to read Susan’s informative article with its helpful suggestions…

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Originally posted as the Dun Writin’—Now Whut? series on this blog, EDITING 101 is a weekly refresher series for some of you and brand new for others.

Courtesy of Adirondack Editing

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…

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