These lessons, by one of our most consistent FaithWriters' Challenge Champions, should not be missed. So we're making a permanent home for them here.
Yvonne, you can save this answer for next week, but I hope to read it then--are there times when you use a simple "Jim said" dialog tag? If not, why not?
Personally, I don't see any reason not to use "whispered"...but I'll get to that next week, too.
Seriously--no reason to apologize for exclamation points!
“Little Josie is so adorable Judy. You must be very proud to be her grandma,” her sister Toni said.
“Yes, she is a cutie. I cannot get enough of her little giggles.”
“Let me show you what I’ve been doing. I print out every picture of Josie that Melissa posts on Facebook.”
“That’s three inches thick, Toni. You’re obsessed!”
QUESTION: Does dialog always need a personal reference, such as Judy said? OR can it be free flowing like the above when it's only two people interacting?
Mercy, peace, and love be yours in abundance. -Jude 2 NIV
You hit the nail on the head, Judy. Tag less dialog is just fine, especially when you want good quick pacing. This is a good example of that very thing.
"Diane, you're so mean!"
"Ya think?" asked Diane, knocking yet another book off the stack Jill carried. "How's that? Better?"
Jill's mouth dropped open, her eyes filling with tears and traveling from the books strewn on the ground to those spilling over in her arms.
"Looks like we have a problem here, ladies!" A man's voice voice startled Jill, causing the remaining books to tumble to the ground and Diane's face to turn white.
Are the placements of these paragraphs and tags correct? Also, how could this short exchange be improved upon?
Thanks in advance,
Catherine - Keep Lookin' Up!
Yes, all of the tags are correct both in placement and in punctuation.
A small improvement--take a look at your sentence structures, and avoid using too many similar sentence structures in such close proximity. That habit can tend to give your writing a sameness and predictability.
In this case, your three longest sentences all have the same structure:
The subject does something in past tense...
Jill's mouth dropped...
A man's voice startled...
...followed by a phrase that features an -ing verb:
...knocking another book...
...filling with tears...
...causing the books...
There's nothing wrong with that sentence structure. In fact, it's perfectly grammatical and could even be considered an advanced writing structure--the sort of thing you like to see in a piece of writing. When I do my other job as a scorer of writing tests online, one of the things we look for is complex sentence structures like these. But another thing we look for is VARIED sentence structures. So just be on the lookout for this. Many good writers have 'pet' sentence structures; I tend to use semicolons far too often (as in this very sentence).
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