Dialogue Tag Preferences

by Mike Chiero

Hello, sir. I was wondering which you prefer and would be more likely to use:

"Hurry up, Jane. The bank closes at 3:00 p.m," Frank said.
"No, it doesn't. It closes at 4:00 p.m.," Jane said.
"Hurry up, Jane. The bank closes at 3:00 p.m," Frank said.
"No, it doesn't. It closes at 4:00 p.m.," Jane corrected.
"Hurry up, Jane. The bank closes at 3:00 p.m," Frank said.
Jane corrected Frank. "No, it closes at 4:00 p.m.

Thank you, sir.

Response: Usually I don't comment on specific writing samples, but as this is brief...

If I had to pick one, I'd pick the first one because the verb "corrected" is a little redundant. We can tell from the dialogue that Jane is correcting Frank, so there's no need to say it twice.

That said, you might want to vary your structure a little. Perhaps use a beat rather than a tag in the first paragraph. You don't want to get into the habit of writing...

dialogue, tag
dialogue, tag
dialogue, tag

... especially if all the tags are in the same format ("X said," "Y said," "X said," etc.).

Whenever you fall into a pattern, you risk making your prose boring for the reader. Variety keeps the reader interested in finding out what you will say next.

Comments for Dialogue Tag Preferences

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Aug 18, 2016
Dialogue Preferences
by: Mike Chiero

Thank you very much, Mr. Strathy. Much appreciated.

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