1. blueberry
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    blueberry New Member

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    No dialogue tags.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by blueberry, Feb 19, 2013.

    So recently I read a short story that was completely dialogue. Which means no dialogue tags were used at all. Seeing this, I thought about completely abolishing dialogue tags in my writing. For example(from something I was doing recently):

    "Hi!"

    "I thought I said never to do that again!"

    "What? Can't take a joke?"

    "I'd hardly call ambushing someone every morning a joke, Talia."

    This was the horrible beast that had ambushed me just a few seconds ago. I had [... ...] would end up with.

    "Sorry."

    "Whatever, I have a class to go to."

    "Oh right, that's the new class you were talking about right? See, I remember."

    "Yep, you sure did."

    "Alright, lets go to class"


    My reasons for doing this would be that I believe it keeps the reader in the dialogue, instead of having to read the dialogue tag. The other reason is that it simply allows for more dialogue, which I find is more interesting to read than description.
     
  2. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    If you have two people talking, with no action taking place, it works.

    If you add any action or any other party or extand it too long, you need to use tags.

    Dialogue tags are invisible to the average reader. It doesn't trip them up at all.

    ~ J. J.
     
  3. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    agree with JJ - if it's 2 guys standing in a lift then why not?

    Stephen King in Salem's Lot doesnt even use speech marks but he does let you know who says what and what's going on in the background.

    I would normally disguise the tags as -
    "what the hell Joe?"
    "ah come on George - I told you not to feed the goldfish to the cat; what did you expect would happen?"
    "well I didnt think that would happen"

    I agree with tags being a pain and when you get people adding adverbs after e-v-e-r-y s-i-n-g-l-e l-i-n-e its just pure tedium but you have to tell us who the speakers are
     
  4. J.A.K.
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    J.A.K. Member

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    Agreeing with those who posted before me, it works when you have two characters speaking with no action.

    However, I must add that for me it does take away from the strength of the character if no mention of a name, gender, age, etc. is mentioned in the dialogue. Saying "Hi, J.A.K." is much more descriptive than a simple "Hi" I am personally not a fan of dialogue with no action behind it, but you can't please everyone. Long story short, no tags is a decision up to yo as a writer, but if you choose to write an entire story using this method, make sure that your voices show as much characterization and development as possible.
     
  5. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    Tags a pain?? I can think of three thousand other things in a novel that bothers me more then tags. They are really transparent.
     
  6. jwideman
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    jwideman Senior Member

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    I work very hard to avoid using them while keeping it clear who is doing the talking. A big part of this is giving each character their own voice. Sentence structure, the length of sentences, the choice of words, and so on. It is not heard often, but the best advice for a writer is to listen. Listen to other people. When I'm in a restaurant and a table nearby is talking loudly, I listen in rather than tune them out. The content of their conversations are irrelevant, but how they talk to each other is enlightening. Even cell phone conversations are useful this way - the loud phone talkers are great voices for unlikable characters.
    And of course, when you do need them, "said Tom" is fine. "said Tom swiftly" is right out.
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    As a writer's exercise, great. But to completely avoid them through an entire novel? Pointlessly fettering the writer, and potentially confusing to the reader.

    Extremes are nearly always a bad idea.
     
  8. NellaFantasia
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    NellaFantasia Member

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    Meet in the middle. If you don't want to trip up your readers with fancy dialogue tag then just use "he/she said" or "he/she asked". Readers don't pay attention to these words so it won't inhibit their reading, but it still gives you the opportunity to explain who's talking.
     
  9. Bimber
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    Bimber Contributing Member

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    As far as i'm concerned you dont need to use even he/she said, you can just use "John- (insert text here)" as long i know who said what am happy, and some sloppy writers even fail with those...

    Not having tags is like ending a book with a cliff hanger in a long series that you know the next book will be out in 4 years!
     
  10. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Huh? Run that by me again - I missed something.
     
  11. Bimber
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    Bimber Contributing Member

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    Dont know about you but when a dialogue is confusing and not clear to you who said what that tends to really annoy me, but what annoys me more is when i read a book thats part of a series and it ends with a really bad cliffhanger that you just want to die to get an answer but got to wait for the next book that takes forever to be written and than published by that time instead of dying to find out what happened I'm mostly annoyed it took so long to get the answer...

    granted a future reader who wont need to wait for the complete series wont feel annoyed as he can grab the next one straight away and find out

    hope its clear more now...what was the topic again? :D
     
  12. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think the OP's original point was that it's possible for the writer to write dialogue, without using dialogue tags, in such a way that the reader can still keep track of who's speaking. Dialogue without tags does not have to be confusing and unclear.
     

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