I’ve just discovered an excellent guide to writing dialogue and I can’t keep it to myself…
I come across many how-to write articles online and you probably do as well. Some are rule-bound and dogmatic and are usually written by bloggers who don’t have any publishing credentials to flaunt, many re-hash traditional ideas and there’s nothing wrong with that, except you’ve read the same advice before. Louise Harnby’s article on Dialogue Tags and How to Use Them in Fiction is different. It’s clear (I suspect clarity is one of her favourite words), concise and by focussing on one aspect on dialogue writing she can be comprehensive. That’s why I feel compelled to share it. Louise is a self-published author with 25+ years of professional editing experience so I think we are in safe hands.
Here’s a small taste,,,
“A dialogue tag can come before, between or after direct speech:
Dave said, ‘That’s the last thing I expected you to say.’
‘That,’ said Dave, ‘is the last thing I expected you to say.’
‘That is the last thing I expected you to say,’ David said.
Placed in between direct speech, tags can moderate the pace by forcing the reader to pause, and improve the rhythm by breaking up longer chunks.”
She explains why said is often the best indicator of who has spoken – but not always – and gives pertinent examples of best practice and the clunky sentences to avoid. Her article is worthy of being blue-tacked to the wall near your computer screen, especially when you’re editing.
There’s much more on her blog. I’ve never met Louise and I’m a very recent subscriber (like yesterday) but I like it a lot: I think you will too.