Who is talking? Do you always need a tag? Advice from how-to-write books say it should be clear from the dialogue, who is speaking. For the longest time, I interpreted this to mean that the character should have some unique way of speaking.
I don’t like to read dialogue where I get distracted with unique speech patterns, so I don’t like to write that way.
I finally understood what the advice means. The context and what the character has to say should give the reader enough information to know who is talking. If it doesn’t then a tag is needed.
If you need a tag, you could try using character movements or thoughts instead of a tag.
So back to my original thought. I now get the advice. So here’s an example.
A brother and sister are talking.
“What?” – can’t tell who’s speaking. Consider a dialogue tag or other method of indicating who is speaking.
“Mom loved you more because you’re a girl. She liked to dress you up and do your hair. I had nothing but scrapes and bruises to offer.” – easy to tell the brother is speaking, so no dialogue tag needed.