The over-use of names in dialogue has a not-so-distant cousin: the verbs allowed to accompany the he-she-it character attribute in dialogue tags.
"Said" is the recommended choice now. He said, she said. "Asked" is used, but aren't other, more descriptive verbs okay to use?
I agree that "Sigh" is a separate action and should not be employed as a speech descriptor, but can't characters mutter, shout, scream, shriek, complain, growl, moan, mumble, murmur, patter, or whisper?
From the most wonderful Writer's Digest Flip Dictionary: Characters could also advertise, affirm, announce, advise, answer, articulate, assert, asseverate, aver, call, claim, comment, communicate, convey, declare, dictate, enunciate, express, imply, indicate, inform, insinuate, intimate, mention, pronounce, quote, respond, recite, relate, remark, repeat, report, show, speak, state, talk, tell, testify, utter, verbalize, vocalize, voice and vote.
They can disclose and divulge. Also acclaim, bark, bellow, blare, call, cheer, clamor, crow, cry, fulminate (though I don't know anyone who fulminates), hoot, howl, hurrah, rejoice, roar, root, scream, screech, yell, yelp and whoop.
From my western historical WIP: neighbor parents promoting their eligible daughter to my eligible bachelor hero:
“Emma is good in the kitchen,” Gertrude said. “She knows to cook and clean.”
“Ja, and make the butter, Albert added.
If I use "added," will I be marked down for stating the obvious? Or does "added" add the note that Albert is seconding his wife's list of their daughter's virtues and adding one more?
What do you think the rule is? When and how is it okay to break it?