Topic: Pertaining to Lesson 3

Our next topic of study will be Dialogue tags & Character movement. If you have a moment before Monday's lesson goes up, would you be willing to post your understanding of tags, and the role of character movement/description as it pertains to dialogue? It doesn't have to be fancy, or long-winded. All I ask is that you don't google for your answers. Just a brief explanation of your understanding of the subject as it stands now, before the lesson.

The reason I'm asking for this is I think it will be a fun exercise to revisit the posts together after the lesson.

Re: Pertaining to Lesson 3

Hi LA,
Will do. Should have it posted tomorrow.  Regards, Randy

3 (edited by Wyatt Goodwin 2015-10-03 06:35:56)

Re: Pertaining to Lesson 3

I am totally guessing on this and it is one of my many weak spots. I almost hope this sounds dumb because I am... about this stuff.
I think! The tag is the portion before or after the quote marks Example: "Remember the Alamo!" Fred screamed, as he fell off the roof...
(Fred screamed, as he fell off the roof) ... is the tag. 
Fred falling off the roof... indicates character movement.
I also hasten to add, I am not positive this is correct. It is however, truthful and concise! (I don't think there are extra points for truthful and concise! Hahaha!)
The other way to display character movement is through narrative speak, which allows more latitude to create more vivid word pictures. Example:
As Fred fell through air he noted to himself, 'there is a bit of chill in the air. Of course it means not a thing, since I will be dead upon impact'... splat!

Wyatt

Re: Pertaining to Lesson 3

Excellent Wyatt! And what specific role or roles can the tag play? In other words, what's the function of the tag?

Re: Pertaining to Lesson 3

Hi LA,
Dialogue tags are used to help the readers (and also the author) know who is saying what.  When I first started writing my novel, I used a tag for nearly every line even when it was clear who was speaking.  I also didn't realize that it was better to put something like, he said, rather than said Johnny, if that makes sense.  Most of my tags now are likely quite boring as probably 90 percent are ..... said, although I've started adding some character movement and description in with these, such as Johnny burped, covering his wide mouth to mask his embarrassment.  The movements help to bring the characters to life and can be used to help the readers visualize the characters. Randy

Re: Pertaining to Lesson 3

Randy, you've correctly identified the primary reason for a dialogue tag. And you've added a great example of how movement can be used, and why it's important. Excellent job!

Re: Pertaining to Lesson 3

LAMackey wrote:

Excellent Wyatt! And what specific role or roles can the tag play? In other words, what's the function of the tag?

To show who or whom is doing or saying what. Is that correct?

Re: Pertaining to Lesson 3

Wyatt Goodwin wrote:
LAMackey wrote:

Excellent Wyatt! And what specific role or roles can the tag play? In other words, what's the function of the tag?

To show who or whom is doing or saying what. Is that correct?

Yes!

Re: Pertaining to Lesson 3

LAMackey wrote:
Wyatt Goodwin wrote:
LAMackey wrote:

Excellent Wyatt! And what specific role or roles can the tag play? In other words, what's the function of the tag?

To show who or whom is doing or saying what. Is that correct?

Yes!

How about that... looks like I am catching on! See, miracles do happen!!
Thanks for your help, LA!

Re: Pertaining to Lesson 3

Okay, now that you've had the lesson, do you better understand how tags often play more roles than the primary function? While identifying the speaker is paramount, so is creating rhythms & beats so your dialogue flows more naturally, and adding action so your speaking characters don't become talking heads. 

However, there is a VERY fine line to how much life you want to bring into tags. Too much can easily overshadow the spoken word. The dialogue should always carry the greatest burden of (here comes the mantra!) 1. Moving your story forward. 2. Deepening characterization, not the tag. Also, overdoing tags and/or adding too much fussy movement can easily disrupt your overall pacing, which is never a good thing. Pick your moments with care.

A trick I use ALL the time is to read a passage to myself. The brain will magically inform you if you ever lose track of who is speaking. If that happens, I add a tag of some sort. THEN, I read it again, out loud. Not only will I catch additional stumble spots this way, but the act of reading both dialogue and tags aloud tells me when I've gone overboard and added too much color. You'll know when this happens because you will verbally stumble as your brain tries to get your mouth to bypass any problem areas.

Any questions about this lesson?

Re: Pertaining to Lesson 3

Hi LA,
No questions at this time but great information above.  Thanks, Randy

Re: Pertaining to Lesson 3

Hey LA,
The lesson was great. There is one thing I get dinged on at review time is staring a chapter with a quote and no tag. Personally I like the affect of blurting in the reader's face, then catching them up with subsequent tags and action tags. The effect is pealing away layers of storyline.
I've read many other books that do that and like it as a reader. Maybe I'm weird that way. Is that really a no-no from a professional writer/publisher standpoint? Or am I just doing it wrong?

CJ

Re: Pertaining to Lesson 3

Hey CJ
If you are looking for a hard and fast rule that says you can't do that, you won't find one. And I can't, in good conscience, advise you against following your gut. There is, however, an adage in the traditional publishing industry that suggests only proven authors can successfully buck convention. The assumption of course being that only experienced authors know enough about the 'rules' to break them effectively. While I agree with this in general, I don't believe you have to reach proven author status to qualify.

How concerned you should be, I guess, depends on what route you’re looking to go with your writing. If the traditional route is your primary goal, then I’d suggest reading up on the importance and weight of a novel’s opening and approach your decision from a place of researched diligence. If self-publishing is your cup of tea, you could probably go with your gut and ignore the naysayers.

Bottom line is if your story is strong and appealing, and the writing mechanics solid, you’ll have little trouble attracting interest.

Re: Pertaining to Lesson 3

Hello LA. Exercise re Lesson 3. Post your understanding of tags, and the role of character movement/description as it pertains to dialogue.
I read some of the earlier responses. Wyatt nailed character movement. Randy's response is good and is closer to what I would have written. I have used a few action tags in the past to indicate character movement. However, in reading other how-to-write books I found that action tags must be few and far apart. I think the same is probably true of character tags. What I understand to be a character tag tells the reader something about a characters metal state. It might answer questions about her honesty, or show a mean streak. I have started making a conscience effort to employ beats for movement and background description as conversations take place. I am also concentrating on using simple tags appropriately. I find that I use tags in places they are not needed and simply slow the reader down.

PS In regard to the sample dialogue you requested as a part of lesson 3, I noticed a message indicating you want this to be written at the moment and not a copy from old material. I missed that part earlier. Fortunately, I am just getting to the project. I am assuming we are looking at 500 words, plus or minus.

Sincerely, John

Re: Pertaining to Lesson 3

Good morning John.

Thanks for the note. I went hunting for your stuff but all I've come across thus far is deleted content--which unfortunately I cannot access or address.

As far as lesson 3 is concerned, we are discussing dialogue tags. Those are speech tags (he said, she said) and action tags (he coughed, she laughed). The term, 'character tag' is a misnomer. It is not a tag. At least not as far as dialogue and this class is concerned. It is a term used for description that lends to characterization, and as such, has no bearing on this class. I mention this because I don't want you confusing the terms, or yourself.

As far your how-to information, you are correct in assuming that too many tags, of any kind, can be disruptive to the reading experience. Most significantly, overuse can overshadow the spoken word--which should be the star of the show. It can also negatively impact pacing. A happy medium is reached when you can read your passage aloud and; 1. not get confused about who is speaking at a given time, and 2. not verbally stumble.

In moving forward, I would appreciate if you would do the following: First, upload the lesson and reading sample related to the lesson and leave them active. Second, copy and paste links to the uploads in the corresponding forum so I don't have to go on a treasure hunt to find your work.

Re: Pertaining to Lesson 3

Good afternoon, LA. Go to the Dynamic Dialogue group--scroll down to new group postings and my work is there, right along with all the rest. Sincerely, John

Re: Pertaining to Lesson 3

John Byram wrote:

Good afternoon, LA. Go to the Dynamic Dialogue group--scroll down to new group postings and my work is there, right along with all the rest. Sincerely, John

That is where I found your two disabled pieces earlier. I didn't see anything else, but perhaps it was a site glitch. I'll check again.