Friday, November 7, 2014
She said. He said. I said.
I recently read an article on writing in deep point of view. I always wondered what this meant. Among other things, it said that in deep point of view dialogue tags are replaced with action, body language, voice description or emotion. Replacing the tags makes your story feel more real.
That got me started on my little tangent of finding and replacing said's in my manuscripts.
Of course, you can't take away all of them. Tags serve the purpose of: identifying a speaker, preventing reader confusion, making long dialogue sections more digestible, and they provide opportunities to insert action or description - thus becoming an action or description tag.
Then there are adverbial tags. I try to avoid these - she said quickly, he said coldly, she said angrily.
These words can make a tag seem more obvious and remind them that they are reading a story instead of experiencing it. Don't be lazy, let the person's dialogue and/or actions show that they are angry.
Last night, I took on the task of finding all the said's in a Middle Grade manuscript I had written. I deleted over 100 of them!
About a week before, I had checked another Middle Grade manuscript I had written. I didn't notice how many I deleted in that one, but it was quite a few.
In case you are wondering, here is one other way to help create deep point of view in your manuscripts:
Get rid of thought words/sense words, such as felt, heard, realize, look, decide and saw.
Why? Because these are telling words that you tack onto the start of a sentence that show the world as it is filtered through the character's eyes.
Instead of saying, "he felt the hot rays of the sun on his body," say "the hot rays of the sun beat down on his body." I know that's not a very good example, but it gives you an idea of what I mean.
So, give it a try. Like me, I bet you will find a lot of dialogue tags and thought/sense words you can get rid of - and it won't hurt your manuscript a bit. In fact, it will make it better.
Anyone else have thoughts to add to this conversation? If so, tell us in your comment.