Tink...tink...tink...anyone out there? Hi! I'm Barbara Donlon Bradley - Author - editor and slightly crazy - ask anyone in my family. I hope to use this blog to talk about writing, editing and whatever pops in my head. Hope you enjoy.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Writing Down the Bones: Dialogue and Tags

It's hard to talk about dialogue without talking about tags. The' he said' and 'she said' tag is the most simple one to use to make sure your reader knows whose talking.  There are others to use as well. There's the action tag - one of my favorites. It helps me combine several things at the same time.

Let me give you an example - this is from my WIP, book 7 of the Vespian Way:



Fridon walked to the medlab feeling paranoid. Was the doctor a clone too? Could he trust him with his theories?
“Fridon? What brings you here?”
“Thought I’d ask if you have found your mate yet?”
“No, and I’m worried. She has never been gone longer than a day and it had been several weeks. Anseri was very upset when her daughter disappeared when I first met Toki, but now. I don’t know. She’s not behaving properly.”
“So you have noticed it too.”
“Yes, why hasn’t she pushed to bring my sister home? Heather has been on that ship since Storm died when she should be here with family to help her cope.”
“One of the reasons I came to see you.”
“What do you need?”
“A way to tell if someone has been cloned.”
“That’s easy. What will take time is disguising the scanner so no one notices.” Kuarto turned to his computer screen. “Be glad I was one step ahead of you and have already been working on this.”
“Can you load it into this?” He pulled out the little device he had created.
“Yes.” Kuarto grinned. “And I can do it immediately.”

That is the rough draft - mostly dialogue with a few tags toward the end.

Now here is the same scene with the type of tags I like to use:


Fridon walked to the medlab feeling paranoid. Was the doctor a clone too? Could he trust him with his theories?
“Fridon? What brings you here?” Kuarto looked up from his work. Fridon wasn't one to sit in an office, he found the doctor working on the main computer of the center. Micali was on a break so Kuarto was the only one there.
“Thought I’d ask if you have found your mate yet?”
“No, and I’m worried. She has never been gone longer than a day and it had been several weeks.” He looked at the door before focusing  back on Fridon. “Anseri was very upset when her daughter disappeared when I first met Toki, but now? I don’t know. She’s not behaving properly.”
“So you have noticed it too.” Fridon noticed Kuarto seemed a little worried about who could be listening in.
"It's hard not to. She has forbade me from looking for Toki."
"What?" Fridon found that hard to believe.
“I don't understand why either and it raises more questions." Kuarto ran his fingers through his hair in frustration. "Why hasn’t she pushed to bring my sister home? Heather has been on that ship since Storm died when she should be here with family to help her cope.”
“One of the reasons I came to see you.” Time to see if the doctor was going to help him.
“What do you need?”
“A way to tell if someone has been cloned.”
“That’s easy. What will take time is disguising the scanner so no one notices.” Kuarto turned to his computer screen and pulled up data on detecting clones. “Be glad I was one step ahead of you and have already been working on this.”
“Can you load it into this?” He smiled as he pulled out the little device he had created. Kuarto was himself and feared the same thing he did.
“Yes.” Kuarto's fingers flew across the keys to start the download. “And I can do it immediately.”

I learned years ago that the action tag helps me make the scene more three dimensional.  It shows the characters moving about the scene as they talk. Helps the reader see where they are. Because of that I rarely use the he said and she said. There is nothing wrong with those tags.  Sometimes they are the only thing that works.
 
What I do see is new authors using the basic tags as well as the action tag. for example lets look at the last sentence in the scene - "Yes," said Kaurto as his fingers flew across the keys to start the download. Although there is nothing wrong with the previous sentence the 'said Kuarto' before the action slows down the sentence a little which can slow down the scene.

Tags are needed, but you can be creative in the way you use them. The idea is to make them invisible so your reader doesn't see them.

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