Tag Archives: vocabulary

My take on dialogue tags

I might not yet be in a position to give truly great writing advice, but I can still comment on things like this. There are those who say that you should never use a word other than “said” to tag dialogue, and it is true that it’s definitely possible to go too far in the opposite direction. Personally, I can honestly say that using adverbs WITH specific words like “cried” is a kind of overwriting I’ve never even been tempted to do. (He emphasized determinedly.)

But I don’t agree with the idea expressed by the people who say never, that written dialogue without tags can ALWAYS make it clear how the line was said. For one example, how would you indicate whispering without either using “whispered” as a tag or having a sentence like “He lowered his voice.”?

But there are definitely words that should never be used in place of “said”. No one other that writers trying to avoid common words has ever used the word “exclaimed”, you can’t “sigh” a sentence, and people are still laughing about the time Ron “ejaculated” words.