Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Dialogue Tags

Not much to say about the subject that hasn't been said already.

I try to avoid them at all cost. I use action or thought to help the reader understand who is talking.

Quick sample:

"Can you come to the mall?"

Normally Heather would jump at the opportuinity to go to the mall with Sally. But she did't want to run into Kevin and his new girlfriend who were going to be there. She might have told Sally that she had no more feelings for the football player, but she was fast learning that it took longer than a week for a sixteen year old to forget her first love. For the next three months, she needed to avoid any friends during the summer vacation. Maybe by September Kevin would be a thing of the past.

"Thanks, Sally, but I have plans."


  1. What about a longer exchange between two or more people?

  2. I took a class once where the teacher said write everything, and then when you finish...go back and erase every tag.

    I guess it depends on your style of writing. For me, I've found that if you establish the scene well enough then you don't need the tags, but if you have more than one person in the coversation or a long interlude between dialogue that the tags help get the reader back into the story. Having said that...the interlude shouldn't be too long either ;-)

  3. Using less tags is definitely trickier when there are more than two characters having a conversation. Especially if the characters are the same sex.

  4. Agree with that, Debra. In a multiple conversation you have to use the tags - or at least some action words to show just who's speaking.