Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Okay, when dealing with conversation in a novel should you drop all descriptive tags favoring 'she said' over 'she grumbled'? It makes it easier to set up the scene using 'she shouted' over 'she said'. I know there are times when you have to use 'said' but combining the dialogue with action and rhythm makes it more interesting to read. And it reads much more easily.

I have to watch not to overuse strong verbs when dealing with tags. I can't seem to find that balance. And how do you know when you've used too them too much? I mean there isn't a formula to go by. I know when you read it out loud it has to sound natural. But my ears might hear natural and someone else might read the same passage and say it doesn't sound real. Off I go to write some more wonderfully, descriptive tags. And let's not even get started on my over/under use of commas.


  1. Yes! Drop them! Drop them all :)

    I use said when a tag is needed, and eliminate the tag totally when I can. Using action in place of a tag can be done nicely to convey who is talking, though this shouldn't be done all the time.

    One great resource for actions related to emotions is the Emotion Thesaurus:
    I use it all the time.

    Fun topic!

  2. I think you should use something like "shouted" or "whispered" ONLY when it is absolutely essential--if that is the ONLY word that will fit...that will help you keep them to a minimum.

  3. I have to agree. Said is an invisible word, and the best to use. Try to get the point across through your actions in the dialogue. Or the thoughts and emotions.
    And there's a contest at ifyougiveagirl.blogspot.com that is for dialogue, so go enter!

  4. I was in the "said at all times" camp for many years, but lately I've questioned it. We are told to use great verbs for every other action. Why does dialog HAVE to be different? So, I've gotten looser on using things like "replied" and "asked" and "shouted".


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