At a Writing with the Pack session recently, our writers discussed the question of whether or not to vary dialogue tags as one writes. While our advice is always to use the bland “he said” and “she said” while drafting… you may want to go back and dress up your characters’ conversations in your second and third drafts with a few dialogue verbs to add some spice to the exchange. A reader can learn a lot about the characters in a story by how they use language. Readers can discover a hidden agenda, a psychosocial bent, or an emotional motivation by experiencing not just what a character says, but how they say it. Although varying dialogue tags can enhance your reader’s enjoyment of your writing, be careful not to go overboard when using them. Sometimes the old reliable “said” works just fine to convey a conversation, under certain circumstances.Here are some alternatives to the standard, “he said” and “she said”. Remember, use them sparingly. A lot goes a long way – you don’t want to overwhelm your reader with too much detail – leaving nothing for their imagination to feast upon.
Diana Kathryn Plopa
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