Dialogue is a way for characters to react and communicate in a story. It can also be a method to move a story along by adding action rather than paragraph after paragraph of details. Placing tags before or after the quoted text reveals who is saying what – like “he said” or “she replied”. Seems cut and dry, right? With emphasis on the dry, these tags don’t give the dialogue much pizazz.
According to Whitney Hemsath, it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. Her delightful post sheds light on a trend that can take a writer’s dialogue from ok to spectacular. Read below.
In writing, there are trends. Some people like the trends, others don’t, but knowing the trends and what following them (or not) says about you as a writer can make the difference between getting traditionally published or not.
One trend is in regards to dialogue tags. There used to be a time when people wanted variety, not just “he said” and “she said.” So more authors would use phrases like “she questioned” “he commanded” “she responded” “he replied” “she barked” “he stated”. However, these days professionals look at all those words as signs of amateur writing. The current trend is to only use “said” and “asked” (and maybe an occasional “whisper” or “shout” if the volume they are using is important to note and is otherwise unclear from context.)
The reasoning behind this is that words like “said” and “asked” become invisible to a reader. They are merely…