D is for Dialogue

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category: ,


Specially, dialogue tags!

Many writers out there firmly believe that one should never use anythign other than "said" or some type of action as dialogue tags. I am not one of those writers. I think it's perfectly okay to use the occasional "murmured", "mumbled", etc. However, it is important to use them wisely!

Take this section of dialogue from my story, Cleanse Fire. In this scene, Derac is talking to Lynusion a faery about the group of faeries they just rescued from the dwarves.




"Thank you, Captain Vidor for rescuing our fellows." Lynusion, Captain of the Tinally Elite said.


"It is our pleasure. They have been fed and given water. A few needed basic healing treatment but will need more care to fully heal. Sadly, many of their feather have been plucked. Do they grow back? Will they be able to fly again?"


"Plucked out?"


"Yes. I assume the dwarves did it as a form of punishment. Maybe even a souvenir."


"They do grow back, but it takes years."


"But they will be able to fly again?"


"Eventually."

Here is the scene again with some action and more than just "said" dialogue tags. See how the scene is much more powerful this way.


"Thank you, Captain Vidor for rescuing our fellows," Lynusion, Captain of the Tinally Elite said.


Derac smirked at his friend. The faery’s jet black hair shined in the sunlight – as always. Derac ran his hand through his own hair and cringed at the dirt he felt in the black strands.


"It is our pleasure. They have been fed and given water. A few needed basic healing treatment but will need more care in order to fully heal." Derac paused and lowered his voice. "Sadly, many of their feathers have been plucked. Do they grow back? Will they be able to fly again?”


Lynusion’s eyes watered and he swallowed hard. “Plucked out?”


“Yes. I assume the dwarves used it as a form of punishment. Maybe even a souvenir.”


“They do grow back but it takes years," Lynusion whispered.


Derac hung his head. “But they will be able to fly again?”


“Eventually,” Lynusion murmured.


See the difference? Using dialogue tags other than said is okay in my book, just don't do it too much! If you have one character "whisper" don't make anther one "whisper back." Also keep in mind to make sure it matches with the scene and the character. If the scene requires them yelling, no one should be whispering or murmuring. Also, if you character is one to never talk in a soft voice, don't have them mutter or murmur either.


What do you think? Only "said" or is it okay ot use other tags when writing dialogue?

12 Responses to "D is for Dialogue"

Lisa Says :
April 5, 2011 at 9:11 AM

Excellent lesson. I'm learning so much from you.

Lisa
InspiredbyLisa

Laura Josephsen Says :
April 5, 2011 at 10:01 AM

I know some authors say use only said because it becomes invisible, but I think some people notice that a lot more than other dialogue tags. It's really an individual preference for each writer, but I like using other dialogue tags, too.

L.G.Smith Says :
April 5, 2011 at 10:04 AM

I'm a mostly "said" person, but I agree there are times when something else is called for to enhance the dialogue's meaning. Good comparison there.

Slloyd14 Says :
April 5, 2011 at 10:45 AM

I need to get out of the 'said' mentality and expand on my dialogue tags. Thanks for this.

Anastasia V. Pergakis Says :
April 5, 2011 at 12:36 PM

Lisa: I'm so glad you are learning from my posts! Makes me happy for sure that my experience helps another writer. :)

Laura: Yes, totally individual preference. Like I said, I'm all for more than just "said" as long as they are used correctly! :) Thanks for stopping by.

L.G.: I do use said or action more often than not, but I agree. Sometimes there just needs to be a little more.

Slloyd: You're welcome! If you like using "said" then by all means, that's not wrong to do. I just personally like to use other tags sometimes. That's me and my style. Stick to what is true with your style! :)

RosieC Says :
April 5, 2011 at 1:06 PM

I seldom use words other than "said", mainly because I prefer to let the tone set the idea of how the character is speaking. Then again, I try to use action markers to signify who's talking, so I try to avoid "said" as well.

Nice examples. Thanks for sharing your work.

Rosie
East for Green Eyes

Kristie Cook Says :
April 5, 2011 at 2:28 PM

I personally don't really like sticking to "said." It doesn't become invisible to me - the repetition stands out and gets annoying. But I seem to be in the minority on this, so I mostly use said or action to identify who's speaking if it's confusing. However, there are times when other tags are necessary. You gave an excellent example of how tags and action change the tone of the exchange. Your second example really set the mood of the scene and helped with character development, whereas the first one sounded like an exchange between two people who didn't know each other or care about the topic, but were simply stating facts.

Gail M Baugniet Says :
April 5, 2011 at 3:46 PM

Professionally applied, dialogue tags add to the reader's experience. Your tags flow smoothly, and have purpose.

Dawn Embers Says :
April 5, 2011 at 5:34 PM

Good ol' dialogue. I'm with you on this one. While I get why some people are anti-saidisms when they are overdone (it does get old fast when almost much of a conversation has the different tags) but using only said gets boring. Said doesn't show or convey anything and the words can't always be interpreted without some help. I do try to rely mostly on action and said but sometimes there needs to be something else.

C R Ward Says :
April 5, 2011 at 8:38 PM

While it's true many people think you should never use anything but said as a dialogue tag, I see nothing wrong with using something else if the occassion calls for it.

I really liked this post!

Anastasia V. Pergakis Says :
April 5, 2011 at 9:26 PM

Rosie: Tone is important for sure as well as action markers. I try to use action more than anything, but sometimes, it's just not there to me I guess. Thanks for stopping by!

Kristie: It stands out to me too. Thanks for the comments and I'm glad the example worked for you.

Gail: Thanks Gail! I admit that dialogue is one of the easy things for me to do in writing, but I still need another eye to catch things for me. :)

Dawn: I agree of course! LOL Thanks for commenting!

CR: I'm glad you liked this post and I agree with you 100%. Sometimes, it just needs a little something more. :)

Sharon - coping with a loss Says :
April 5, 2011 at 10:39 PM

Great example of the power of alternative dialogue tags. Thanks. Now I'm curious whether I've ever used anything besides said.

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