Say Who?

Note: This commentary is in response to an excellent article on writing dialogue,
"How to Write Great Dialogue" by Kat Brzozowski, Swoon Reads, as read by Mignon 
Fogarty, Grammar Girl.

This is a great guide to writing dialogue, but that’s not surprising. Grammar Girl excels.

Dialogue tags can definitely be distracting. They too often create unnecessary barriers between readers and the transcendent world of fiction. Sometimes a simple tag (e.g., said) is necessary to introduce the initial speaker but writers can often avoid tags for most of the subsequent dialogue unless the identity of the speaker becomes unclear.

As suggested in the guide, lengthy dialogue can be tedious. Fortunately, writers can interject description, reflection, or action to change the pace and provide deeper insights. Inner thoughts or physiological reactions can clarify visceral responses that may not be revealed through dialogue alone. Physical action or body language can suggest an emotional or psychological state or need while also identifying the speaker. When those options are not optimal the speaker can address the listener by name, assuming the circumstance is appropriate, when two people are talking to each other.


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