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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Educating the Reader Part 1 - Dialogue tagging

What I really hate is when a writer tags every single line of dialogue. It should be obvious who is speaking due to tone, words, style, interaction, expectations, roles, etc. So why put 'said John', 'asked Jane'? It's because the writer wants to make it perfectly clear who is speaking when.
I, however, believe it is a perfect opportunity to 'EDUCATE THE READER'. Never miss that. (Yes, that was in capitals to get your attention.)
Of course, you don't want to be too obtuse...well, I love that, too. A little confusion until the dust settles always makes things interesting :-)
For example...
Who is speaking? Who has an uncle in the story? If you didn't know before, you know now that there is a man who is an uncle and there's a niece or nephew. Do you see? With one word, you have created a little world of questions and the reader is 'into' the story.
What characters say and how they say it can also tell you who is who. Two different characters requesting salt...
"Excuse me, I wonder if you could be so kind as to pass the salt?"
"Oi! You! Give me that!"
Taking out unneccesary dialogue tagging is just one way to educate the reader. There are others...later...

BTW, my birthday promo of MBAT and Beth got 199 downloads! Good for no advertising :-)


  1. Agreed, however, insufficient tagging can leave even the 'educated' reader confused. There needs to be a balance.

  2. Absolutely! And not the overbalance by Bestselling authors, tagging every line and dullifying the readers...which works in their favour, by the way - it helps them to sell their dumb-ass books...