Tag! You’re it! Or is it who’s on first?

More on tags, don’t we love them? Tags are a great way to help your reader determine who’s speaking. For a quick lowdown on what tags are, please refer to this link.

Without going into great detail, the bottom line is tags should be attached to the dialogue.  That means putting both the dialogue and tag in the same paragraph. Rather than providing a long drawn out lecture, let’s just look at a few examples. 🙂

Example 1:

Bridgette twirled in circles. “I love dancing.”
Carrie watched from a distance.

*By putting Bridgette’s dialogue in the same paragraph as her actions, the reader knows Bridgette is the speaker and not Carrie.

Example 2:

Bridgette twirled in circles.
“I love dancing.” Carrie watched from a distance.

*This shows Carrie speaking.

Example 3:

*Generally speaking, you don’t have to put a dialogue tag on every line. If it’s a volley, it’s assumed that the characters are taking turns speaking even without tags.

Bridgette twirled in circles. “I love dancing.” BRIDGETTE
Carrie watched from a distance. “Do you have to spin so fast?” CARRIE
“Yes!” BRIDGETTE
“Fine. Make yourself sick.” CARRIE

Example 4:

*If for some reason a character speaks out of turn, some kind of tag is needed, whether  action tags or dialogue tags, though a simple ‘said’ or ‘asked’ is sufficient.

Bridgette twirled in circles. “I love dancing.” BRIDGETTE
Carrie watched from a distance. “Do you have to spin so fast?” CARRIE
“Yes!” BRIDGETTE
“Fine. Make yourself sick.” CARRIE
Carrie glowered at Bridgette. “That’s it. I’m leaving.” CARRIE

Example 5:

*An action separating two separate pieces of dialogue is not always sufficient to show who’s talking.

Bridgette twirled in circles. “I love dancing.” BRIDGETTE
Carrie watched from a distance. “Do you have to spin so fast?” CARRIE
“Yes!” BRIDGETTE
“Fine. Make yourself sick.” CARRIE
Carrie glowered at Bridgette.
“Alright. Let’s go.” WHO’S TALKING?

VERSUS

Bridgette twirled in circles. “I love dancing.” BRIDGETTE
Carrie watched from a distance. “Do you have to spin so fast?” CARRIE
“Yes!” BRIDGETTE
“Fine. Make yourself sick.” CARRIE
Carrie glowered at Bridgette.
“Alright. Let’s go,” Bridgette said. BRIDGETTE

Hope this helps.

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