I’ve been doing some critiques recently and wanted to remind writers about a few basic dialogue pointers. The most important note that I’ve been giving is that you need to put every piece of dialogue and/or action that belong to the same character in the same paragraph. If a character is speaking only, that’s one paragraph. If the character is acting and not speaking, that’s one paragraph. If a character is both speaking and talking in one moment, that’s one paragraph.
You break for narration, if there is a narrator, and description, or to switch characters.
This seems like a no-brainer to some of you, but I just gave this note about five times in a row and it seems like there are people out there for whom this isn’t second nature.
Also, to go along with this note: You don’t need a tag for every piece of dialogue if there are only two people in a scene. If you follow the above tip, your readers will be able to follow who’s talking. You should only go heavy on the dialogue tags if there are three or more people in a scene, because things could get hairy there.
To learn more about dialogue tags, click here. Finally, another dialogue post. You can never be too careful or judicious with your dialogue tags. This is one thing that could either support your scenes beautiful or be completely distracting.