Don’t Talk Like That: How to Write Good Dialogue–Tags & Beats

Story Empire

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Hi SErs! Harmony here 🙂

Today, I’d like to take another look at dialogue. Because this is such a large topic, I have spread the topic over a few posts. As the post title suggests, we’ll look at ‘tags and beats’ around dialogue today.

‘ “So, what’s the deal on dialogue attributions?” the young writer asked. “I’ll tell you,” said the wise old writer. “It’s not complicated, but it’s important.” “I’m ready to listen!” the young writer asseverated. The wise old writer slapped him. “Don’t ever asseverate anything again. Just listen.” ‘

The above amusing quote comes from How to Write Amazing Dialogue by James Scott Bell.

Top Tip: Basically, an attribution is what most of us call a dialogue tag. We use dialogue tags to identify the speaker to the reader, and a tag is an excellent way to avoid too much name…

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7 thoughts on “Don’t Talk Like That: How to Write Good Dialogue–Tags & Beats

  1. If you use chuckled as a beat (action), that is fine if used in moderation.

    You don’t ever want to use it as a tag because it’s not speech.

    As for the general advice out there, all I can say is be careful who you take notice of. Not everyone knows what they talking about, sadly.

    Best of luck with your writing. Have a wonderful weekend 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m confused by the different advice given about writing.
    “Don’t use should, is, could, would.”
    “Use should, is, could, would,”
    Don’t use chuckled.
    Use chuckled so that the next character doesn’t have to say, “Don’t chuckle at me.”

    The writing advice that is consistent: “Show, don’t tell.”

    It just seems that different experts have a different idea as to what the word “showing” means. I’m still confused, but you know that. 😊

    Liked by 2 people


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