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.

Author: tylerus

I'm primarily a writer of fiction and blog posts, and a sometimes editor and proofreader of books, manuals, and film/television scripts. Fact-checking and researching, organizing and coordinating are skills and joys (I enjoy playing detective and developing structure). My fiction audience: lovers of female-sleuth mysteries. My genres of preference: mysteries (needless to say), women’s fiction, informative and helpful “affirmative” non-fiction. So-o, here I am, staring up a new blog for aspiring and established e-Book writers. The plan: to share the (long) journey of getting to this stage, and share "learnings" and "teachings". There's a lot I hope to accomplish with this blog, but it may be a while before that happens as there's a lot on the ol' plate - taking care of Mom, working full-time, and attempting to get another book in the Triple Threat Investigation Agency series written (never mind blog postings and other writing projects). It's very challenging and it's all good. As I like to say: teeny focused baby steps are just as effective as long forceful strides. It may take a little longer, but we will get there.

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