Dialog tags in modern writing

Dialog tags were drilled into me throughout most of my life. I never had a problem with them until two years ago. I started writing a story that features a mostly female cast. The characters don’t stand around talking about the men in the story, they don’t discuss makeup secrets. They talk about things important to them and their survival. They hold entire conversations, one on one, about growing, learning, healing, and becoming something more than what they are today. This leads to conversations that, if the proper dialog tags were used, would read “…” She said. “…” She said. “…” She said.

Dialog TagsAdding the characters names in place of the pronouns would be tedious at best, and very draining on the reader. It would also break up the conversation timing in very awkward ways. Dialog tags are a wonderful tool, but they were never meant for a world where characters of the same sex discuss something in a rapid fashion.

For me, the decision was easy. When I only had two female characters talking in a hurried fashion; dialog tags could take a hike. When there would be a perceptible break or pause in the response dialog tags could stay.

The tone of the character becomes all important when I chose to leave the dialog tags out. Each character had a way of speaking, they had their own vocabulary to pull from. The college educated character would talk very differently from the self educated character that reads archaic books.

As the series has progressed, I found the inclusion of many more characters made this more difficult, but still the same issues of she said, she said dialog tags comes up regularly.

What are your feelings on dialog tags, are they useful for timing devices and the occasional introductory sentences of a conversation, or are they a rock upon which all good writing must conform to?


I will be doing several giveaways for my new book. I will be including several signed copies of both the paperback and the hardback as well as 3 items directly related to main characters in my story. I will also be doing an author giveaway for my writing friends to enjoy. I am really excited and all of my hard work is coming together. Thank you to everyone that has helped me along the way.


In the Future

I will be posting the first chapter of my book on here for your enjoyment when it gets closer to coming out. I haven’t decided if I should do a chapter per week for four weeks or just the single teaser chapter but I am in talks with my manager and publishing company about that. I will be sure to include any of your suggestions in the decision. In the meantime, here are some famous rocks from my hometown.

Monterey Bay at Lover's Point
Monterey Bay at Lover’s Point

A moment of Zen

Zen rock gardens in Monterey.
Zen rock gardens in Monterey.

We all need a moment of Zen. That time when the world melts away and only living in the moment matters. It is easier in some places than others to find that special something. For me it is Monterey beach in California. The sound of waves, the peaceful feelings of thousands of relaxed people all on their own pilgrimage to their personal peace. Nothing (for me) can top the old (older than me) art of building a zen garden from the beach stones. It takes a focus of mind that refuses to let other things interfere. That report due on Monday seems a distant memory for a little while. So I will leave you with these images of my Zen.

Removing yourself from your writing, artistic, creative, chaotic world to focus on just the rock currently in your hand is a gift to yourself.

Down to the wire

It’s getting messy in here.
I would like to say the impending deadline for my manuscript isn’t bothering me at all. That would be a lie.

The good news is the book release date is set, the bad news is the manuscript due date is set too.

So with a perfect mix of excitement and fear, I will probably sleep for three days after submission.

I am not procrastinating at all right now. Really. OK, a little.

See you on the other side and I will be sure to add some pictures from the photo shoot location.

CC Ryburn