mistake in Dialog

The Most Common Dialog Mistake 

When we first started writing novels, we often made this dialog 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 dialog.

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 dialog?  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 dialog, it’s important  to recognize words that should never be used in a dialog 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 a character can do in the middle of the dialog,

but not saying it.

Keep reading to find out the correct way to use these words.

We created this list to remind us not to use these words.

Here is the list of words you should never use to replace said in a dialog tag.

belched

 

laughed

 

smiled

 

clucked tongue

gasped

beamed

Trembled

Choked

jeered

Giggled

Wept

Quivered

coughed

Shrugged

gulped…

Chuckled

grinned

breathed

yawned

Sniffed

Nodded

smirked..

Leered

sneered

sneezed

snorted

shivered

shuddered..

quaked

shook

spit..

Snickered…

cleared throat

shook head..

waved

growled

fluttered

fumed

ticked off

glowered

seethed

thrilled

signaled

scowled

gurgled

sighed

swallowed

exhaled

inhaled

threatened

Of course this is not a complete list. But it should give you an idea of words not to use in a dialog tag.

For more information see our post: 240 words to replace SAID

And 78 Words to Replace ASK

How to Use These Words Correctly.

Let me explain the correct way to use these words when writing dialog. Use them as a separate sentence woven in-between the dialog.

Here’s how these 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.

Dialogue mistake #2

The 2nd Most Common Dialog Mistake                       

Punctuating dialog 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 dialog and when do you put a period after the dialog

Punctuating dialog 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.

 

Let us know if you enjoyed this post.

We would love to chat with you about writing.

Happy Writing

John & Patty                   @writingagreatbook.com

For more about dialog mistakes

SEE: https://writingworkshops.com/blogs/news/5-mistakes-killing-your-dialogue

https://writingworkshops.com/blogs/news/5-mistakes-killing-your-dialogue

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