Tighten your writing by getting rid of dialogue tags.
June 24, 2016
Dialogue tags (he said, she asked, he replied) can help the reader understand who’s talking. But when it’s clear who’s talking, you can cut the tag. This makes your writing tighter and the pacing faster.
If the speaker is doing something, the action is enough to attribute the dialogue. Simply put the speech in the same paragraph as the action.
The dialogue scene will become more exciting to read. Good dialogue needs very few tags.
Here are some examples before and after a said-free diet:
He drew his gun and said: “Prepare to die.”
He drew his gun. “Prepare to die.”
Grabbing her arm, he asked: “Where are you going?”
“To the police,” she replied.
He grabbed her arm. “Where are you going?”
“To the police.”
Shrugging his shoulders, he said, “I don’t know.”
He shrugged. “I don’t know.”
“Bastard!” he shouted, slamming his fist on the table.
He slammed his fist on the table. “Bastard!”
She fidgeted with her necklace. “I didn’t see him,” she said.
She fidgeted with her necklace. “I didn’t see him.”
I recommend that you kill most dialogue tags. Keep only the ones needed for clarity.