Varying Your Dialogue Tags : WAKE Editing Articles and Advice
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Varying Your Dialogue Tags

by Weston Kincade on 03/02/14

Dialogue tags

Dialogue tags are essential in writing fiction novels. However, a common problem many authors encounter deals with structure and varying the format. This is necessary because redundancy is obvious to readers and will undoubtedly bring about negative feedback. The following dialogue tag structures are normal in their own right. However, too much of any one thing can become problematic.


What’s a dialogue tag?

A dialogue tag is the continuation of a sentence including dialogue. It indicates who said what.


Most Common Dialogue Tag Structure

Dialogue tags most commonly follow the dialogue, like this:

“Janet, don’t do this,” Frank said.


Least Common Dialogue Tag Structure

Dialogue tags that tend to be used far less often come before the dialogue.

Frank said, “Janet, don’t do this.”


Recommended Dialogue Tag Structure for Longer Passages

To help break up longer dialogue passages, writers often insert dialogue tags into paragraphs of dialogue, like this:

“Last week, last night, and now today,” Gloria demanded. “How many times do I have to tell you? Get a pizza! I’m not your servant.”


To avoid redundancy, remember to diversify your dialogue tags by making use of each of these different structures. I hope these editing recommendations help in your future writing ventures.

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