The Real Deal About Dialogue Tags

Your middle school teacher lied to you. 

You might remember the day. You did an assignment about synonyms for “said”, and maybe even had to write a conversation where you used those instead of the word “said” in your dialogue tag. The implication was that you should use a lot of different words when tagging dialogue, to avoid it seeming repetitive. 

Which was terrible advice. 

Most of the time, your dialogue tags should be invisible, leaving the dialogue itself to get all the intention. But once in a while, you’ll want something a little more demonstrative. Let’s talk about tagging dialogue: the basics, the fancy stuff, and how authors make mistakes with it. 

The Basics