Dialogue Tags


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.

4 thoughts on “Dialogue Tags

  1. Thank you for this insight. I can use the context to indicate who’s speaking!
    Now I don’t have to make my characters talk funny any more just so that the reader knows who’s speaking. 😉
    Yeah, that’s how I interpreted the advice too. (*blushes*)


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