The Most Common
When we first started writing novels, we often made this dialogue mistake .
It seems there are verbs you should never use to replace said in your dialogue tags (also called attributions or speech tags)
I wish someone had showed this to us before we had written our first book. We had to go back and fix much of our dialogue.
Hopefully, this will save you the agony we went through.
Here's 3 examples
"I agree," he nodded.
"I thought you would," she giggled.
"Well," Sam fumed, "I don't agree."
"I don't see why not," he smiled
Can you see the problem. If you don't see the problem you are probably making this mistake, just like we did.
Can someone giggle something or nod a line of dialogue? No, of course they can't.
Yet, oddly enough, it is easy to forget that these actions cannot be used in speech tags.
When writing dialogue, it is important for you to recognize words that should never be used in a dialogue tag. See below how to use these words correctly.
Look at our list. Many are actions. Remember, words can't fume, clear their throat, or jeer. Heads can nod, but words can't. .Words don't spit or seethe either.
Those things the character can do in the middle of the dialogue.but not speaking it.
See the correct way to use these words, after the list
We created this list to remind us not to use these words.
Type in your email and click the box to get this list as a PDF cheat sheet
Here is the list of words you should never use to replace said in a dialogue tag.
Of course this is not a complete list. But it should give you an idea of words not to use in a dialogue tag.
We also have A list of 240 words to replace SAID
How to Use These Words Correctly.
Let me explain the correct way to use these words when writing dialogue.
Use them as a separate sentence woven in-between the dialogue.
Here's the correct way those sentences should be written
"I agree," he said nodding his head.
She giggled. "I thought you would."
"Well," Sam said fuming. "I don't agree."
He smiled. "I don't see why not."
As you can see; using these words correctly is mostly a matter of punctuation.
The 2nd Most Common Dialogue Mistake
Punctuating dialogue correctly can be difficult. It's hard to remember when to put a period inside the quotation marks and when to put it outside the quotation marks.
When do you put a comma after the dialogue and when do you put a period after the dialogue
Punctuating dialogue correctly is essential if you want your story to be clear and understandable to your readers.
It was hard for us to remember all the rules. So, we created a simple info-graph to make it easy to remember. We are offering it to you for free.
Before you leave grab your free info-graph:
How to Properly Punctuate Dialogue
Let us know if you enjoyed this post.
We would love to chat with you about writing.
John & Patty @writingagreatbook.com
For more on dialogue mistakes