Don’t Always Believe What You Read Online

I reblogged this from Luanne Castle’s site with her permission. It deals with an aspect of writing that is important to me both as a writer and a reader. Thank you for writing this post, Luanne!


Luanne Castle: Poetry and Other Words (and cats!)

When I started writing creative nonfiction/memoir, the issue of dialogue tags rose its nasty little head early on. I’d never given them much thought in fiction writing, and they don’t exist in poetry. For some reason, nonfiction made me think and rethink what works best. Maybe it’s that more expressive word choices conveyed more information than plain old “said,” but in nonfiction it seemed like overkill to write “stammered” or “giggled” about oneself.

These “more expressive” tags look something like this:

Eventually I took courses online and learned that all the creative and imaginative tags I’d debated were worthless. I think these teachers were right, so I’m sharing what I learned from them.

The idea is to stay as far from “tagging” as possible.

That means that if you can write dialogue where it’s clear who is speaking each line, you don’t need any tags at all. Sometimes you can start…

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4 thoughts on “Don’t Always Believe What You Read Online

  1. They used to say “Don’t believe everything you read in the papers”. I’m not clear how you’re using the word tag. But surely, the idea is to keep the dialogue interesting and to impart as much info as possible in as few words as possible, and to keep it simple. I don’t use thesauruses, and I try not to go on too long about….oops!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think the main gist of this post is not to use tags at all if you can help it. For example, if two people are having a conversation, you know that if one starts to speak the other one will answer. You don’t have to say “he said” and “she said.” Also, as much as possible, the tags should be as unnoticed as punctuation, so just mainly use “said” and “asked.” For more on that, you could check out my article on dialogue tags here:

      Liked by 1 person

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