Monday, September 10, 2012

Dialogue Tags vs. Action Tags

I read an interesting blog post lately about dialogue tags and action tags. What is the difference? If you don't already know this, dialogue tags are the ones that require commas and action tags are the ones that don't.

According to the blog, a dialogue tag is telling that a person said, whispered, screamed, asked, or responded.

Action tags are things the person does. Words like flirted, smiled, teased, growled, etc...

You can read the article here. She gives some great examples, too!!

I think there is an exception to this rule when working with animals that speak. Hear me out before you go all argumentative on me, okay?

In The Abigale Chronicles - Book Three, I have a dragon named Glinx that talks (he also burps fire but that's another story). I believe that he could growl a statement as only a dragon could do.

If I had a horse that talked, could he not whinny or neigh a response? A fairy could tinkle or trill a response, right?

Dialogue tags have their place. PLEASE don't ever stop using them!! I'm one of those people that gets lost four lines into a good chunk of dialogue if they aren't tagged with the speaker now and then. Children's books should have more tags than adult novels because kids get lost more easily than adults. Where an adult novel needs one only every four or five lines, a children's book needs a dialogue or action tag every couple of lines.

As a reader, I'll tell you, I do not mind a he said, she said, or an Abigale said, Glinx roared every couple of lines. I like to know who is doing what. Tell me!

Tomorrow, I'm gonna talk about pronouns - those pesky little words like he, she, they, them, it, hers, and his. I find misuse of them everywhere. Sure, we all have a tendency to stick an erroneous one in there now and then, but that's what proofreaders and editors are for, right? Even then, some get missed, I admit. But perhaps raising awareness will help someone, somewhere, construct better prose.

Is there a topic you find you have trouble with that you'd like clarification on? If yes, leave me a comment and let me know!!

Keep an eye out for The Abigale Chronicles - Book Three on September 25, 2012!! Cover reveal and synopsis reveal this week! If you don't have Book One or Book Two yet, what are you waiting for? Click the titles to pick them up! Just $1.99 each on Kindle!

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!



  1. Great post. I agree, I want some he said/she said so I don't get confused. But I also agree that animals (or paranormal creatures) can growl a statement. Good stuff!

    I've been having some trouble with creating effective flashbacks that don't confuse the reader (from both a writer and editor perspective).

    I always love stopping by your blog.

    1. Oooooh yeah! Flashbacks can cause headaches in a big way. As can flashforwards or inner dialogue. I shall address this later in the week. Thank you, Tia, for both the comment and the accolades :)

  2. I'm a person who gets annoyed with tags other than 'said'. Like 'murmured' and 'shouted'. It just sticks out like a sore thumb. As a reader, I don't like to be told how to read something. Of course, it may be that reading the first (couldn't tolerate any more) '50 Shades' book soured me on these forever.

    1. LOL! I think, when used sparingly, those words have their place. But I do hate to see them used over and over and over. Agreed that 50 shades needed an editor BADLY. I only made it to page 30ish. Yuck. Thanks for the comment, Jen!


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