This writing tip by repeat guest Rosanna Leo takes me back to one of the few "writer group" meetings I've ever attended. I was about to launch into a monologue on the slaying of dialogue tags, before I shut myself up and allowed the person focus on their creative process. This isn't to say the issue is trivial--it's just something I feel deserves focus in the revisions/editing stage (as opposed to first draft). Of course, my internal editor has gotten rather adept at zapping these critters as I write. Who knows? In a decade or two, I might manage to annihilate the majority of them. *cue evil laughter*
Ahem. Sorry, Rosanna tends to bring out my theatrical side. I'll let her take over before this devolves any further.
Save a Book, Kill a Dialogue Tag
by Rosanna Leo
Thanks so much to Tara for hosting me as I continue my blog tour for Predator’s Rescue, Gemini Island Shifters 7, my latest release!
Dialogue tags. If you’re a writer, you’re probably already sighing with me. They’re evil, little creatures, aren’t they?
What on earth am I talking about? For those who haven’t heard the term, a dialogue tag is what we call those pesky words at the end of a piece of dialogue. For example, “He said” or “She replied.”
These are words writers use many times per day. Many writing experts agree we should use them as little as possible. Why? After all, people speak. Wouldn’t we want to show them speaking in a work of literature?
That is exactly the point. We want to SHOW them. Many agree there are more effective ways of describing a character’s actions than by simply stating what they said. I use dialogue tags here and there, but I prefer to show what the character is doing or thinking at that moment. Reiterating “He said” or “She said” tends to slow down the pace as well. It’s unnecessary. If have a piece of dialogue, we generally know who is speaking. Take this example from Predator’s Rescue:
He stopped pacing. “Look at me.”
“I need a shower,” she blurted, blinking over itching eyes. “I smell like fish dinner leftovers someone forgot to put in the fridge.”
“We can shower later.”
She raised an eyebrow.
“I mean, you can shower later. We need to talk.”
“Talk, talk, talk. I’ve never known any other man who wanted to talk so much.”
Here, I use one dialogue tag (She blurted) to point out heroine Fleur’s state of mind, more than the fact she is responding. It’s a quick sequence and the reader doesn’t lose track of who says what.
Have you ever read a piece of dialogue that distracted you with its use of tags? Chances are, there were too many of them.
Save a book. Kill a dialogue tag today.
by Rosanna Leo
Tiger shifter Jani Fodor should have washed his hands of Fleur Bissette long ago. However, when she disappears from the shape shifter sanctuary on Gemini Island, he can’t forget her, and launches a fraught two-week search to find her. He thinks she’ll be grateful but the petulant she-wolf resents his intrusion in her life.
Jani recently liberated Fleur from a vicious cult of shape shifters, where she was brainwashed by the sadistic August Crane. The wolf shifter terrorized their friends at the Ursa Fishing Lodge and Resort on Gemini Island. Labeled a “bad girl” all her life, Fleur knows she’ll never fit in with the good guys at the Ursa, no matter how much Jani tries to convince her of their regard. Besides, she can’t stay with Jani. Although he’s the closest thing she’s ever had to a friend, their chemistry is explosive in the worst way.
When a new menace arises, in the form of a vicious drug dealer with a grudge, Jani is adamant Fleur accept his help to rehabilitate her addict mother and remove her from the influence of her dealer. Fleur accepts Jani’s assistance but as they work together, friendship erupts into passion. Neither can deny their lust-struck spirit animals and before long, they realize their connection runs deeper than they ever expected.
Despite the threats posed by the drug dealer, the worst danger of all dwells inside Fleur. Haunted by the spirit of August Crane, Fleur is inundated by visions that torment her. She is consumed by guilt and plagued by old hostilities. Can this bad girl make good? And is Jani’s love enough to save her from her demons?
Once again, Jani’s temper flared but he swallowed his simmering rage. He stood and raised his voice so he could be heard over Loretta Lynn’s tinny warbling as it emanated from the jukebox. “Now I’m going to ask everyone in this shithole one more time. I’m looking for Fleur Bissette. Where is she?”
There was a crash and a feminine cry from behind one of the closed doors. Jani didn’t hesitate. He launched himself off his stool and toward the door, already on the verge of shifting. His tiger hairs danced in anticipation under his skin, ready to burst through his pores.
The two men who’d approached him grabbed him by the shoulders and hauled him back.
“Hey, asshole,” the grizzly man shouted. “You’re not allowed back there. Private parties only.”
Jani glanced at the hand on his shoulder and then at the man. “One warning. Take your hands off me.”
The idiot snorted and looked at his pal. “Why waste your time lookin’ for Fleur anyway? That girl’s nothing but trouble. Trouble loves her. In fact, she’s probably spreading her legs to trouble right now.”
Jani reached for the man’s arms and spun him around. “What did you say?”
“It’s all the bitch knows how to do. That’s all women like her are good for anyway.”
Jani reared back and let his fist fly, cracking it against the man’s face. The grizzly shifter flew across the room, hitting the back wall, collapsing to the floor. The grim satisfaction of seeing the man crumple overrode any pain in his knuckles. In fact, it felt so good to hit the jackass he had to hold his hand behind his back so he wouldn’t hit him again.
No one, no one, insulted Fleur. The man was lucky Jani didn’t kill him for the slight. Fleur had been called too many names in her time, and he’d made it his mission to see she was never belittled again.
Jani nodded toward the other men. “Don’t even think of stopping me.”
He tried the closed door, relieved to find it unlocked. He flung the door open and his tiger senses homed in on her immediately.
Fleur had clearly been serving drinks to the small group of shifter bikers inside, but one of them had gotten a little too close to the new waitress. Her tray of drinks lay on the floor, smashed, and one of the men had her over his lap. His large hand caressed her ass as she squirmed in his grip.
As time seemed to freeze for Jani, Fleur turned to glance at him. She mouthed his name.
The silent plea made his heart twist in his chest. Had she actually spoken aloud? He wasn’t sure. He couldn’t hear her voice. His ears were ringing too much as his tiger roared her name.
Her dark eyes seemed to grow darker, black with emotion, but he didn’t take time to analyze the sentiment flitting behind her irises.
With a noise that must have sounded more animal than man, Jani raced toward her and pulled her off the man’s lap. He moved her toward the door, so she wouldn’t be hurt in the melee. He then turned to the shithead who’d grabbed her, a growl emanating from his furious core.
The biker, startled and likely drunk, didn’t react quickly enough to shift. Jani hauled him off his chair and thrust him toward the wall.
“Jani,” Fleur called, her voice loud and clear now. “Don’t. You don’t know what you’re doing.”
“His hand was on your ass. I know enough.”
One of the other men was foolhardy enough to try to stop him. He tried to yank Jani away but Jani snapped his arm back, using his elbow to hammer the man in the face. Cradling his bloody nose, the man retreated.
Jani turned his attention back to the shifter who’d groped Fleur. “That was the last time you ever touch her.” Bracing himself, he head-butted him. A sickening crack sounded in the room. The man moaned, his eyes rolled back, and he dropped to the floor.
Ignoring the pain exploding through his forehead, Jani marched toward Fleur, picked her up, and hauled her over his shoulder.
“Hey. Put me down! You have no right.”
No right. He might have laughed if he wasn’t concerned about getting her out of there in one piece.
Holding out his free arm to warn off any others who might consider having a go at him, Jani carried the writhing Fleur out of the room and out of the bar. His heart thumped against his chest just from holding her. Granted, he hadn’t quite envisioned holding her like this, her ass high in the air near his face, but it pleased him more than he cared to admit out loud. Something about the scenario made his inner caveman very happy.
About Rosanna Leo
Rosanna Leo is a multi-published, erotic romance author. Several of her books about Greek gods, selkies and shape shifters have been named Top Picks at Night Owl Romance and The Romance Reviews.
From Toronto, Canada, Rosanna occupies a house in the suburbs with her long-suffering husband, their two hungry sons and a tabby cat named Sweetie. When not writing, she can be found haunting dusty library stacks or planning her next star-crossed love affair.
A library employee by day, she is honored to be a member of the league of naughty librarians who also happen to write romance. Rosanna blogs at www.rosannaleoauthor.wordpress.com