Posted in Dialogue

Tag Lines

In a story in order to determine who is speaking a piece of dialogue, tag lines are used. Notice in the following example the last two lines don’t have a tag line. That’s because one is not always needed once it’s been established who is talking. Generally, a person will do the speaking every other line. So, in this example, it is assumed that Tia is then doing the speaking in line 3 and Sarah is doing the speaking in line 4. If a tag line is added every time someone speaks, the flow of the dialogue sounds odd. BUT, every now and then, throw in a tag line so that readers can keep track of who is speaking. There’s nothing more irritating than having to go back through a long piece of dialogue in order to keep track of who is doing the speaking.

Example: “I don’t like it one bit. It won’t work,” said Tia.
“Sure it will,” replied Sarah. “Trust me.”
“That’s the problem. None of your ideas ever work.”
“They do too.”

Please keep in mind that you don’t always have to use the word ‘said’ when creating a tag line. Here are some options in the list below. There are many many more than what is here. This is just a taste.

  • replied Tia
  • responded Tia
  • stated Tia
  • whispered Tia
  • answered Tia
  • demanded Jack
  • claimed Susan
  • asked Bill
  • agreed Susan
  • added Susan
  • admitted Jack
  • fumed Bill
  • feared Sally
  • giggled Jane
  • indicated Jack
  • joked Tia
  • decided Tia