Dialogue Tags

The prompts and quotes I’ve been reading from my writing book recently have been interesting. They get my mind focused on the writing I want to do on a particular day. The book itself is entitled The Writer’s Daily Companion. Amy Peters is the author, and I recommend it highly to any writer who wants to start their day off with encouragement.

Now, let’s get to the quote itself. From Anne McCaffrey, “James Blish told me I had the worst case of ‘said bookism’ (that is, using every word except said to indicate dialogue). He told me to limit the verbs to said, replied, asked, and answered and only when absolutely necessary.”

“Said bookism.” I had never heard it indicated in quite that way before. But, it is something I struggle with, and probably something all of us have struggled with at one point or another. In fact, it was slightly gratifying for me to read that such a well-known author had the same struggle. We want to spell out everything our characters are saying and doing and not let our readers come to any conclusions on their own. I’ve had to learn that letting readers figure out things for themselves is what can make the difference between a good story and a great story or a good writing piece and a great writing piece. I took some time to look through some of my older stories, and if I ever decide I want to do something with them, going through and replacing or eliminating dialogue tags will be one of the first editing tasks I need to do.

I also liked this quote from the book itself. “Keeping dialogue cues to a minimum lets the true essence of your story shine.” (The Writer’s Daily Companion, Amy Peters) When I’m writing a story, I have certain things I want to communicate through my characters, and I want to make sure I’m communicating clearly so anything that helps me with this is a win in my book. As I continue to write, I plan to become more familiar with common mistakes so I will know what to look for as I start to edit some of my longer works.

Hope everyone has a great day!

2 Replies to “Dialogue Tags”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *