Sentence Tags: When, Where, How, To What Extent Should They Be Used?

Discussion in 'Indie Writing, Publishing & Marketing Discussion' started by fairieswriter, Feb 24, 2012.

  1. fairieswriter

    fairieswriter New Member

    Jan 10, 2012
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    I saw this topic started a little within a critique in another section, but I thought it would be a great discussion topic of its own.

    What are people's thoughts about sentence tags? I went through a lot of critiques when writing my first novel. This was a big issue for me at first. Then I realized that I could make the story so much more interesting if I did physical descriptions and take out most of my tags.

    For example, I may have said this at first:

    The centaur said with a whinny, “I-I believe I might quote words of the One, Didasko.”

    But would now say this:

    The centaur whinnied. Twenty-five weight-ups awaited him if he gave the wrong answer. His front hoof dug into the floor in agitation. “I-I believe I might quote words of the One, Didasko.”​

    You know who is talking because you just described his actions before the quote...or you can do this after or between the quote.​

    I also used to think it was okay to say stuff like:​

    She coughed, "That's okay."​

    You can say that she coughed and tell how the words seemed to stick in her throat. But she didn't cough the word, she said it.​

    I have learned to stay away from tags as much as possible, but if I use them, I use normal tags like 'said', 'asked', 'exclaimed'.​

    What are your thoughts?​
  2. Chautona

    Chautona New Member

    Feb 4, 2012
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    I do both. I really try to mix it up. I avoided ANY sentence tags originally, and I found that my writing felt a bit choppy in some places. When I rewrote, I added some in, and it was definitely a smoother read.

    However, whenever I find a book that has too many, I feel like I'm reading a child's reader and I tend to toss the book aside. Finding a balance is key for me, but if I have to choose between too few and a bit choppy or too many, I'll take choppy ANY DAY.