Writer’s List: Dialogue Tags

Writer’s List: Dialogue Tags

April 17, 2018 Blog 0
dialogue tags

If dialogue adds life to your writing, then variety is the spice of life. That said, it’s pretty common to find yourself repeating the same dialogue tags over and over again. What’s a dialogue tag? It’s the ‘he said’, ‘she asked’, ‘he replied’ phrases that come before or after a piece of dialogue.

So what does repeatedly using the same dialogue tags sound like?

“Yes,” he said, “it’s true.”

“Well then,” she said, “that’s unfortunate. I was rather hoping it wasn’t.”

“I’m sorry, I wish I had better news.” he said.

Dialogue like this sounds awkward and stilted. If you find yourself running into repetitive dialogue tags then you have one of three options: remove some of the tags altogether, replace them with action, or vary them up with some help from this handy list:

TagKeywords
she saidneutral
she intonedneutral
she requestedquestion
she sworenegative
she snappednegative
she hesitatedcautious
she sighedfrustration
she said softlyquiet
she said quietlyquiet
she said firmly
she said flatlyemotionless
she said quicklynegative, anxious
she said hastilynegative, anxious
she said skeptically
she said with a sigh
she said, amusedpositive
she said, looking amusedpositive
she said, his voice coldnegative, angry
she said, exasperatednegative
she said, shrugging
she said under his breathquiet
she said, shaking his headdisagree
she said, glancing atneutral
she said absently
she finally said
she said, voice firm
she said sarcasticallynegative
she translatedneutral
she askedneutral, question
she respondedneutral, question
she repliedneutral, question
he wonderedneutral, question
she explainedneutral, question
she asked, flushingembarrassment
she repeatedneutral
she mutterednegative
she whisperedneutral, quiet
she admitted
she continuedneutral
she chimed inneutral
she trailed offquiet
she beggednegative
she pleadednegative
he screamednegative, angry
he roaredloud, negative, angry
he ragednegative, angry
he cursednegative, angry
he cursed to himselfnegative, angry
he hissednegative, angry
he growlednegative, angry
he yelledloud, negative, angry
he calledneutral
he thoughtneutral
he wondered out loudquiet
he snickeredpositive
he bellowednegative, angry
he bellowed a laughpositive
he told herneutral
he told himselfneutral
he replied carefullycautious
a voice askedneutral
a voice whisperedneutral, quiet
he criednegative
he cried outnegative
he sobbednegative
he croakednegative
he stammerednegative, cautious
he fell silentquiet, cautious
his voice was calm
his voice was coldnegative
his voice was flatnegative
his voice was icynegative, angry
his voice tremblednegative, angry, anxious
he answeredquestion
he demandednegative, angry
he barkednegative, angry, loud
he commanded
he shoutednegative, angry, loud
he cautionednegative
he rebukednegative
he reassuredpositive
he exclaimed
he declared
he insisted
he maintained
he murmuredquiet
he laughedpositive
he mumbledquiet
he jabbed
he agreed
he teased
he jokedpositive
he chuckledpositive
he sniggered
he tittered
he giggledpositive
he recounted
he concluded
he resumed
he whimperednegative

Do you have more dialogue tags you’d like to share? Feel free to comment below!

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