Dialogue Tags, You Say?

Another short give-thought-to post, this one about dialogue tags (again).  

Notice the difference:

He said, “I’ll see it’s done.  And quickly.”

“I’ll see it’s done.  And quickly,” he said.

Either one is fine.  They could, of course <he-he> use a bit more description, such as:

Narrowing his beetle-black eyes, he said solemnly, “I’ll see it’s done.  And quickly.”

“I’ll see it’s done.  And quickly,” he said solemnly, narrowing his beetle-black eyes.

What we don’t want to see?

He said.  “I’ll see it’s done.  And quickly.”

“I’ll see it’s done.  And quickly.”  He said.

Only capitalize if the dialogue tag can sit on its own as a sentence.  As a tag, it takes a comma.

So, no to:

“He’ll be attending the festivities.”  Sally said.

But yes to . . .

“He’ll be attending the festivities,” Sally smiled.

“He’ll be attending the festivities.” Sally smiled.

Both work in this case.  Why?  In the first tag, she’s smiling as she’s saying this.  In the second, she smiles after she says this.

And tags don’t necessarily have to go at the end or the beginning; they can go in the middle.

“He’ll be attending the festivities,” Sally explained, “and then leaving for Paris on the midnight flight.”

We’ll return to dialogue tags again as they seem to be a “nebulous” area for some.  

Like this post, keep it simple . . . and always check on-line when in doubt.  Ensure your final product—yes, I say this a lot, but it’s so very true—is as professional as it can be.

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