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Dialogue tags and ‘show, not tell’ #WriterWednesday #AuthorToolBoxHop #AmWriting #WritingTips

D.E. Haggerty

show not tellShow, not tell. The advice is the bane of every writer’s existence. Of course, we want to show you our story and not tell it. But how? For me this is especially difficult with dialogue. Dialogue tags are my personal nemesis, and my novels are dialogue-driven. Eek! He said, she said sounds horrible (not to mention boring!) to me. On the other hand, writing ‘he grunted with annoyance’ or some such drivel doesn’t sound great either. So, what’s the solution?

I’ve combined the ‘show, not tell’ with the ‘don’t overuse dialogue tags’ advice to come up with a strategy. Instead of indicating who is speaking and the manner in which they speak (grunting, whispering, etc.), I now try to show what the speaker or listener is feeling. Please note: Like all good advice, this shouldn’t be overused. Otherwise, your dialogue will be difficult to find between all the information about…

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