Use dialogue cues, not tags!
by Laura Drake
Okay, I admit it. I’m prejudiced against dialogue tags. Yes, I know they say, ‘He said/she said’ are invisible to the reader.
They’re not to me.
Even if you don’t share my pet peeve, why settle for something so boring? You write a sparkling line of dialogue, and slap ‘he said’ on the end? Why not continue the sparkle instead?
But first, a few rules of dialog you may or may not be familiar with:
1. The ONLY time you need a tag is if the reader wouldn’t know who was speaking otherwise. I’m always surprised by how many NYT authors have tons of unnecessary tags. If there is only a man and a woman in the scene, and someone says, “Excuse me, I have to go to the ladies room.” do you really need a tag? Many times the dialogue itself cues the reader.
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