This is great advice that I follow every time I read through my drafts. It’s also advice I’ve passed along to the ladies in my writing group. It’s amazing how many dialogue tags you can get rid of when you really try, perfect for reducing that word count!
When my children were small, I worked for a while at their school. One of my roles was to take the ‘able and gifted’ children for creative writing lessons. Part of this was to increase their vocabulary and we duly spent a great deal of time thinking about different words, more interesting words, particularly more interesting words than ‘said’ and ‘asked’. Honestly, I’ve spent hours writing down word after word after word that could, technically anyway, be used instead of ‘said’!
Now I spend a great deal of time highlighting more unusual and interesting dialogue tags and begging my clients to please, please, please delete them and, if they must use a dialogue tag at all, then stick to ‘said’ and ‘asked’.
I can hear the intake of breath from here – particularly from those of you who are newer writers (and possibly from some of those who aren’t and…
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