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I’m on the last legs of my novel and have realized some really interesting things.

1. I’m a better writer now then I was when I started (yes, I’m tootin’ my own horn).
2. There’s still so much to learn – for example – speech tags!

Speech tags are useful only if they are used appropriately. The he said/she said and he asked/she asked are two others that are used..

Here is what I’ve learnt when it comes to speech tags.

They can be replaced with ‘gestures’ – meaning, things your characters do while they are talking. Like “her fists clenched as she slowly repeated each word”

  • Don’t overuse substitutes for ‘said’. These substitutes could be “vocalized, inquired, replied”. This is a good example of telling rather than showing.
  • Show, show, show. Stop telling the reader – show them instead!

What do I mean by ‘showing’. I wondered this myself. I always thought I was showing, that of course I had to tell in order to show, right? Wrong! If I want to show how my character reacts or even acts during the dialogue – I use words like ‘yelled, shouted, screamed, whispered, sobbed’ – you get the picture right? Ok – so I’m just learning this now – which sadly means that I should have known it before! And since I’m only learning it – I’m sure there is more I could say about speech tags. So teach me – share with me what you have learnt about speech tags. I’d love it if you could also include samples!

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