by Luke

Question: I am currently writing a science fiction with dialogue and this is my first time writing. I'm well into the book with a word count of over 45,000, however my question is; how I can make the transition from narrator to dialogue easier without the, he said, she said or replies. Because I have found it difficult to do this any other way.

Answer: There's actually nothing wrong with speech tags such as "He said," even though it seems like you type them over and over.

If you have a long stretch of dialogue between two people, you only need a few tags at the beginning to establish the speaking order, and then you can largely omit them after that.

Writing a conversation among three or more characters will require more speech tags so the reader does not get confused about who says what.

You can vary things by using verbs other than "said," but do so sparingly. The nice thing about "said" is that it doesn't call attention to itself, so that the reader's attention remains on the dialogue itself.

Another option is to use action beats in place of speech tags. Action beats are small actions characters do. For example...

Susan draped her arm over the back of the sofa. "Come join me."

If a character does an action in the same paragraph as speech, the reader knows it is the same character speaking.

As with speech tags, you shouldn't overuse action beats. However, they have the advantage of helping the reader imagine what that characters are doing and what the setting looks like.

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