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  1. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    Dialog tags

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by lostinwebspace, Mar 26, 2011.

    Sorry for all the questions lately. I have another here:

    Flashy dialog tags aren't good: commanded, boomed, stammered, etc. because the dialog itself should do all the heavy lifting. He said, she asked should be all we want. But are there any others? I find it pretty... anticlimactic, I guess... to have a very heated piece of dialog be followed by "said," so I'm compelled to write "yelled" or something I hope is equally non-flashy. I try to make the speaker obvious through action so I can avoid the tag altogether, but sometimes I only want a piece of dialog, which makes a dialog tag necessary to identify the speaker. What other dialog tags are acceptable?
     
  2. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    I usually stick with, Said, Shouted and whispered. I show my character are angry by their facial expression or body language. It's not dialogue tags that are accepted..you just have to ask yourself, do i really need use commanded? or can it been shown through something else, eg. body language?
    Hope this helped...it's about 12.41 (And i'm tired) here so if there are mistakes, excuse me lol
     
  3. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Anyone you can get away with. Getting away it is the hard part.

    Anything can work under the right circumstance, but some fail more easily the others.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You are best off sticking to "said" and "asked" most of the time. Like other foundation words like "the" and "and", repetition is not as bad as it seems when you are focusing on it. These simple words fade like ninjas into the shadows, supporting the story unobtrusively. The invisibility of their being so common is exactly what you want, because the main purpose of the dialogue tag is to help the reader keep track of who said what.

    The harder you try to avoid a glaring repetition, the more you draw attention to your efforts.
     
  5. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

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    That description made my day.
     
  6. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    You decide what is acceptable.

    All I know is that what I do now is the complete opposite to what them teachers back in the ol' days taught us. They pushed us to use as many different dialogue tags as we could cram in.

    Now I tend to use a few throughout. Actually, to be more accurate, I like fast-moving back and forth dialogue without too many tags.

    I'd use yelled/shouted if it fits the circumstances. Why not?
     
  7. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think the teachers were testing your vocabulary, not teaching you good writing.
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    More to the point, teachers aren't necessarily writers. In general, they recognize that repetition can be bad, because they see examples of it all the time that stick out like a compound fracture. So they generalize, as do most students, and assume they should therefore seek variety in dialogue tags.

    Repetition of dialogue tags doesn't stick out. An overabundance of variety in dailogue tags DOES stick out, but not as dramatically as overuse of primary action verbs.

    As for setting tone (shouting in rage, speaking hesitantly for lack of confidence, muttering sullenly, etc), occsionally the choice of dialogue tag verb can facilitate it, but you should mostly set the tone more holistically. The choice of words; gestures or fidgeting; facial expressions; and overall context - these paint a far more vivid picture than the dialogue tag verb, punctuation, excesses of capitalization/font attributes.

    That is writing.
     
  9. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    I suppose tags other than 'said' are okay from time to time, just as long as you don't attempt illogical/non existent verbs that are nothing to do with producing speech, like:
    'You are in my power,' she hissed. (no 's' anyway, so where does the 'hiss' come from?)
    and
    'I can't stand this any more,' he husked. (how the **** can a person 'husk'?)
     

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