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I am editing my sequel right now, and getting rid of as many dialogue tags as I can. Everytime I delete one, it makes me feel like I am making the story lighter, easier to absorb. So, I am click clicking away. Honestly, I don't know what I was thinking putting a dialogue tag on EVERY SINGLE LAST PIECE OF DIALOGUE! Thank you to whoever told me to stop overusing them! I can't remember who told me that on here (I think it was multiple people).
 

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Ha! I've so been there.

Dialog tags, IMO, are like accessories. It's tempting, when you have a whole box of baubles, to put on every diamond you own ... but the rule is, take off the last one you put on. I equate that to conversational tags. I write them, then take them out. It's certainly freeing. And while my characters do hiss, say, groan, and mutter ... they do it far less in what goes to press then what lives originally on my computer.

My other big flaw? I write names into the conversation like it's going out of style ... ugh, someday I shall shed that too!
 

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It gets better the more you practice. I've gotten better at omitting adverbs from them, but every now and then I'll sneak a few more words in, like I'm saying to the reader, "in case you didn't get what I just said...here, I'll say it again."
 

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You know what I have taken to doing?

Write the dialogue with no attribution whatsoever. It helps me to concentrate on putting the character's voice in the words and you can always review for clarity and add attribution later.
 

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Gregory Lynn said:
You know what I have taken to doing?

Write the dialogue with no attribution whatsoever. It helps me to concentrate on putting the character's voice in the words and you can always review for clarity and add attribution later.
This is excellent.
 

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Gregory Lynn said:
You know what I have taken to doing?

Write the dialogue with no attribution whatsoever. It helps me to concentrate on putting the character's voice in the words and you can always review for clarity and add attribution later.
Hmmmm, now there's an idea.
 

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Gregory Lynn said:
You know what I have taken to doing?

Write the dialogue with no attribution whatsoever. It helps me to concentrate on putting the character's voice in the words and you can always review for clarity and add attribution later.
Totally agree with this. A sign of a good writer is when you can follow a three or four way conversation that doesn't use any tags and know who's speaking each time.
 

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headofwords said:
Totally agree with this. A sign of a good writer is when you can follow a three or four way conversation that doesn't use any tags and know who's speaking each time.
Or that their characters begin every statement with their catchphrase or vocal tic.

Seriously, tags are not the enemy.
 

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Dalya said:
Or that their characters begin every statement with their catchphrase or vocal tic.

Seriously, tags are not the enemy.
Dalya is my hero.

In a writing workshop a while ago, I met a writer who had been told that the word "was" is a bad thing. So he wrote an entire book without a single occurrence of it.

It. WAS. A godawful contorted piece of shite that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.

Tags are only bad if they're superfluous and/or repetitive.
 

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George Ellis said:
I seriously don't understand this obsession with dialogue tags, their positions, etc. Don't writers have bigger things to worry about than whether or not they have "too many" dialogue tags?
Try reading a novel with a dialogue tag with every single piece of dialogue and you might change your mind. :D

It's easily fixed in edit, really. I wouldn't worry about it too much. I feel that I overuse action tags and beats. With every piece of dialogue my characters tend to do something. At least, they no longer shrug all the time.
 

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Dalya said:
Or that their characters begin every statement with their catchphrase or vocal tic.

Seriously, tags are not the enemy.
No, they aren't the enemy at all. But I think it would be a good exercise in developing unique voices for the characters. And, like he said, you can add tags later on.
 

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"Good work," said Mark with a knowing raise of the eyebrow, and if I'm not mistaken, a glint in his eye that was last seen in 1994.  ;D
 

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Write the dialogue with no attribution whatsoever. It helps me to concentrate on putting the character's voice in the words and you can always review for clarity and add attribution later.
I have written pieces that were dialogue-only, for fun and as a writing exercise. I wouldn't suggest that anyone try to publish a book this way, but it's a good way to work out character voice, and yeah, you can always add tags later.

People put too much emphasis on dialogue tags. A balance of tags and no tags isn't going to kill your book.
Oh, I agree. My original point was simply that many of us (myself included) tend to use too many tags, and it never hurts to check that in edits. JR is right in that a lot of beginning writers tend to use dialogue tags on every last piece of dialogue, which gets annoying. Dalya is correct in that writing dialogue with nothing but action tags and character tics gets annoying, too (my characters grin too much, like a pack of deranged lunatics). In fact, we're all right. Everyone have a nice piece of coffee cake *shares Entenmann's*.
 

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Mine smirk and elevate their eyebrows a LOT.

Bunch of smug bastards...
This made me laugh out loud and it's EARLY! Mine don't smirk much, but they do raise their eyebrows. I often think, hmmm...how long has it been since you typed that. Do you think our characters are related or is it some kind of muscle disease infiltrating fictional characters?
 

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headofwords said:
Totally agree with this. A sign of a good writer is when you can follow a three or four way conversation that doesn't use any tags and know who's speaking each time.
I once read about a famous author (can't remember which one for the life of me) who used to copy and paste all of the dialogue out of the novel into a separate document to check for inconsistencies and to be sure that you could recognise the character from the dialogue. That's pretty intense but I agree with the idea. Characters with voice have greater depth. I always find that readers identify with the characters who have the strongest voice.

My bad habits - too much smiling. I find it so hard to describe people without a smile, or smirk.

I'm an adverb lover, too. I'm British. We speak in adverbs :(
 
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