Dialogue tags are important and essential to use in every story we write. Are they always needed? No, but we do need them from time to time in order to know which characters are talking to each other or to themselves. So this post is all about dialogue tags.
What is a dialogue tag?
A dialogue tag is a tag that goes before, in between, or after a piece of dialogue. It’s that little quip that says, “he said” or “Rachel cheered.”
How do you use dialogue tags?
Well, as I said they can go before or after the dialogue or in between it. Depending on where you put the tag, you need to make sure your punctuation is correct to go along with the dialogue. For example…
Rachel asked, “Where were you last night?”
“Why are you asking?” Chase replied.
“Well,” Rachel sighed, “you didn’t answer any of my phone calls.”
When do you use dialogue tags?
This is sort of like personal preference but also you need to read your manuscript and see what makes sense.
If there’s two characters speaking to each other and the banter is quick, one right after another, you can get away without using dialogue tags. Of course, use them in the beginning to make sure your readers know who is speaking.
“I didn’t know you were trying to call.” Chase said.
“Um, maybe you should check your phone then?” Rachel replied.
“What did you want, anyway?”
“It doesn’t matter now.”
If there’s a lot of detail and description in between the dialogue, a tag doesn’t hurt to remind your readers who’s speaking next. Also, if there are more than two characters speaking with one another, it’s a good idea to use tags so they knows who’s talking.
“What’s all the bickering about?” Chip asked.
“I think Chase is hiding something from me.” Rachel answered.
“It’s not just from you.” Chase replied.
“See?” Rachel exclaimed.
“Guys, please…” Chip sighed.
Overall, dialogue tags are a great way to convey the message to your readers about who is speaking and how they’re saying it. Though it’s not always needed and your readers can always infer based on what they already know.