Well, dialogue tags or saidisms are the additions to dialogue that identify the speaker. Without them, the reader would get confused as the conversations unfold, or if you have more than two characters speaking to each other within a scene. Readers need dialogue tags and saidisms that don’t distract from the narrative.
What are saidisms?
Alternative words that mean “said” that are used to indicate additional information that is not expressed through the actual dialog or in the character description.
Dialogue tags (saidisms) are simple indications that allow the reader to identify each speaker. If there are only two characters in a scene, then it is not necessary to place a tag or saidism after each line of dialogue. Occasionally, you can use the character’s unique speech patterns to distinguish which character is speaking.
Yeah, I like this last version best because it has a much deeper POV.
He laughed, “Stop tickling me.”
“You’ll all die tonight,” Jake sneered.
He laughed. “Stop tickling me!”
“You’ll all die tonight.” Jake sneered.
Sure, a few are okay, but don’t overdo it. Why? Because these types of tags tell and don’t show, which take you out of deep POV.
Try to stick to using the general, “said / say” tags. The reader’s eyes will simply pass over it and never even realize they’ve read it.
While acceptable, words such as “hollered” and “bawled” and “cried” often draw their attention away from the dialogue and yank your reader out of the story.
These words appear as if you have fallen in love with your thesaurus. If the dialogue is well-written, a few carefully placed tags like, “said/say” or "ask/asked"will often do just fine.
Also, try to avoid using too many descriptors like “yelled,” or “said angrily,” or “cried out,” as a description of the character’s emotion. The dialogue tag should allow the reader to interpret how something is being spoken without telling them. And remember that the word “said” is invisible to readers in dialogue text, while too many description tags can be off-putting to the reader.
While readers tend to read over the basic “said/say” tag, discernible attempts to insert a mixture of words such as “exclaimed,” “shouted,” or “teased,” will completely pull the reader out of the narrative.
How to write dialogue correctly:
Dialogue is set apart or identified with quotation marks. “Words spoken.” To create realistic dialogue, it does not have to be written in complete sentences. In real life conversations, people don’t always use proper grammar, either. So make certain that your dialogue sounds like what a person would actually say in a real conversation.
Please make sure that all of your characters sound differently. They should not speak the same way or sound the same.
If you’re writing a crime-drama, your vengeful, homicidal housewife should not sound the same as an alcoholic surgeon who just lost a patient on the operating table. Study current slang and modern trends. Give each character their own unique voice.
Victor smiles—a lazy smile, studded with white teeth. “Lovely evening.”
I’m reasonably sure I’m safe being alone with Victor. Sure, he’s a jerk, the type of bully who’d corner a kid on the playground, terrorize him, then later lift his palms and widen his eyes in mock innocence when the teacher challenges him. Plus, I haven’t had a chance to really interrogate him yet.
He steps closer, almost invading my personal space, eyeing the amulet resting between my breasts for a long second, before his gaze lingers on my boobs. His stare is downright creepy. There’s no way Victor thinks I’m a hottie—we can’t be less each other’s type. And the guy makes my skin crawl. But while I might not know how to handle the spooky stuff, I do know how to handle lecherous men.
“Y’know, being stalked isn’t really a big turn-on for most women.”
He doesn’t answer, just stares at my lady lumps.
“My eyes are up here, Victor.” I put a finger under his chin and tilt his head upward.
He looks down again and licks his lips.
Ewww! I flick his forehead with my index finger and thumb, making him blink sharply.
He rubs the red spot. “Hey!”
I glare. “Stop it then!”
His expression turns wolfish. “Why? Is it affecting you?”
I cross my arms. “Of course not. You’re being a pig.”
“Am I? So sorry.”
Now I challenge you to try rewriting a scene in your own work-in-progress.
Want even more tips on how to enhance dialogue scenes? Please get a copy of my handbook, "The writer's Guide to Authentic Dialogue Scenes"