Guest Author - Mia Hayson

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category: ,

Today, I'm honored to have Mia Hayson visit my blog! She was able to get away from the zombies long enough to write a great post about dialogue for you guys to enjoy! Make sure you pay a visit to her blog at My Literary Jam and Toast. Beware the zombies! Glitter, hot dogs, and Lady Gaga will distract them enough for you to read her posts in peace, so stock up before you visit!

Dialogue Tag Options Other than SAID or ASKED

Hello! I'm Mia and today I'm going to talk to you about dialogue. I'm so very lucky to have the chance to guest post for Anastasia, she's awesomesauce. I'm sure you already knew that though!

Anyhoodles, let's get to the bottom of this, yes? Dialogue tags, hmmm. Mention them at a table full of writers and you're sure to have at least twenty minutes of conversation slammed down. No lie. Tell the writing police about your liberal abuse of some tags and they will shut you down. But why not mix it up a little and keep it interesting? It's totally your writing. Hands on learning is fun. Here are some things you can do to really shake things up and bring that spark back into dialogue tags, in a list form because I love lists!

1. Substitution.

Go with what's appropriate but don't be afraid to substitute words. For example "cried" can go probably anywhere if the moment requires it. When in doubt, just write cried!! That might add an interesting dynamic to the whole exchange. Perhaps don't use it all the time though. And something like "purred" might have to stay in the special locked "we're-not-writing-that-yet" box for a while yet.

2. Action.

Instead of talking shop why not discuss what's going on around the dialogue? She picked up what now? If you have no idea what tag to put, and I'm not condoning this sort of thing all the time, but why not put in a little action instead? It can add a whole new dimension to the writing if funny things are happening as they speak. Or normal things. They work too.

3. Distraction

Shouting "OMG, IS THAT A MONKEY OVER THERE?" usually works for me but what I really mean is more like a character speaks and then the narrator writes "and then I decided to shoot him" kind of thing. For shock value. For funsies. To distract the readers from the speaking and mix it up a bit.

4. Withold-itution

Don't put anything there. This is especially useful in action scenes. It really speeds things up and increases tension.

5. Observation.

I love love LOVE this one because it's something I think we all do when we listen. We're listening but we're also thinking about the person we're talking too. Perhaps one speaker mentally notes that the other's shirt is particularly fine today, maybe they're thinking about how their hair resembles a nest. Go crazy. Have fun

And there you are! Five things you can do to mix it up. Any suggestions? What do you do to make your dialogue sparkle? Whatever you do, be sure to enjoy the ride.

4 Responses to "Guest Author - Mia Hayson"

Amalia T. Says :
December 15, 2010 at 4:19 PM

Excellent post!


See? that worked perfectly already!

Old Kitty Says :
December 15, 2010 at 5:15 PM

OMG is that a monkey over there?!?!

Yep! That worked!! :-) Take care

Trisha Says :
December 16, 2010 at 1:19 AM

Fun suggestions, thanks :D Will take them on board in my 3rd revision coming up soon. LOL

Dawn Embers Says :
December 16, 2010 at 10:24 AM

Oh yeah, I was going to comment to this post but it got lost behind other windows.

I use some of those techniques and sometimes I'm like "screw the rules" and use whatever saidism I want. It's fun to have variety and for me "said" gets boring after the 20th time in one conversation. Action is probably what I use the most though.

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