Common writer mistakes #13

#13 — Dialogue tags vs action tags

Dialogue tags can be tricky. But they’re easy to understand after knowing the difference between them and actions tags.

Dialogue tags show who’s speaking and how they’re speaking. These can include but are not limited to:

  • Begged
  • Exclaimed
  • Grumbled
  • Said
  • Screamed
  • Shrieked
  • Snapped
  • Sneered
  • Squeaked
  • Whispered
  • Yelled

Dialogue tags are formatted with a comma before the quotation, and a period goes after the tag. For example:

“All I asked for was some eggs,” James snapped. “I didn’t mean to go buy me a hen.”

Action tags show the character’s actions while dialogue is going on. It’s also used to show the character’s emotion.

The options for action tags go way beyond any possibility. They can be any type of action from slamming a door to leaning a head on someone’s shoulder.

An important distinction is if something moves. Dialogue tags mention the character’s voice, but with action tags, characters usually move their body.

Action tags are formatted as a separate sentence and are not connected to the dialogue at all. For example:

“All I asked for was some eggs.” James flapped his arms in the direction of Mr. Gobbles. “I didn’t mean to go buy me a hen.”

As you can probably tell, they both are useful for telling a story.

I hope this helps!

DARE TO CONTINUE?
#1 — USING MULTIPLE ADJECTIVES
#2 — VAGUENESS FOR TENSION
#3 — REPEATING WORDS FOR EMPHASIS
#4 — COMMON MISUSED WORDS
#5 — MISUSING HYPHENS

#6 — UNNECESSARY DETAILS
#7 — NOT DEVELOPING CHARACTERS
#8 — THE WORDS “FELT” AND “FEEL”
#9 — OVERUSING CHARACTER NAMES
#10 — ADDING TOO MANY COMMAS

#11 — Different types of dashes
#12 — Not using plain language
#14 — Misusing commas

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