Doing Dialogue Right, Part III


Exclaimed, Declared, Trumpeted, Gushed, Enthused!

These are all different tags I’ve seen on manuscripts I’ve edited. Personally, I wouldn’t use any of them. I’m not saying that you couldn’t get away with using them, but the problem is that they draw attention to themselves in a way that you don’t want them to. They say to the reader “Look, this a novel! Look at my creative description of the dialogue!”

Dialogue tags are there just as nuts and bolts. They clear up confusion and hold things together. Let the way that the character’s speak, and what they do convey the tone of speech. For example:

“I’m so angry,” thundered Steve’s boss.


“Steve, how could you?” said Steve’s boss, grabbing him by the lapels.

It’s the old adage of showing not telling. Trust your readers to pick up on these cues. They will quickly get lost in your story rather than noticing how much a character “gushes and enthuses.”