Thursday, December 12, 2013

"Because," I said.

Over at there was a recent discussion about dialog tags. I joined in and, I think, summed it up best:
"If a speech tag draws attention to itself, it draws attention AWAY from the dialog, and if a speech tag is used to prop up weak dialog, then the problem isn't the choice of an unusual speech tag, the problem is weak or poorly written dialog. 
"As a writer, then, your goal should be to write dialog so good it doesn't need speech tags to prop it up."


Peter DiChellis said...

I enjoyed this discussion and left a (late) comment on the original post. Dialogue tags are peculiar beasts to me because they’re likely the only verbs that are usually better in their most generic form (said, asked).

But perhaps not always. People do yell, holler, whisper, and so forth when speaking, and sometimes those verbs add meaning.

Best wishes,


Michael Bracken said...

You're correct, Peter.

And sometimes punctuation can replace the dialog tag completely.

"She's got a gun," he shouted.


"She's got a gun!"


"Do you love me," he asked.


"Do you love me?"

Of course,

"Do you love me?" he asked.

is redundant. But

"Do you love me? he whispered.


"Do you love me?" he shouted.

use the dialog tag to add meaning, just as you suggest.

Peter DiChellis said...

Great stuff, Michael. I learn from your posts.

Best wishes,

Barbara Martin said...

A nice reminder to ensure the dialogue is set properly to carry the story forward.