9 thoughts on “Guest post: Tag or No Tag? Showing Not Telling by crime writer and reviewer Graham Smith

    • morgenbailey says:

      Thank you very much, Gerrie. Great to see you here. Editors are vital. They are going to be the biggest expense for independent authors but the writers I help say it’s worth every penny / cent, and I feel the same about my editor.


  1. Yvonne Hertzberger says:

    I think it also depends on genre. I hesitate to use capitals and too many exclamation marks as they seem to take the reader out of the flow. They are too jarring. But I do agree that too many descriptors also slow things down. In the end I do think individual style will determine, at least in part, how far we take this idea.


  2. Ian Miller says:

    My view is B is the best. I think capitals should be restricted to the beginning of names, sentences, etc, and using capitals to indicate shouting is simply bad writing. I also do not like italics unless they are to indicate an emphasis that would not normally be expected. Also, if you do not like “asked” straight after a question mark, try “Brian asked”. I also think there should be occasional tags, so the reader can easily keep track of who is saying what. This is particularly the case if the conversation is not exactly inspired. I recently reviewed a book (because I had promised to) where I had to go back and reread from time to time to try and work out who said that line. It did not put me in a generous mood later.


    • morgenbailey says:

      I’d go somewhere between B and C. It’s recommended that you have some kind of tag every sixth line so the reader doesn’t get lost, but it doesn’t have to be connected with the speech itself but a way out is to have some action. Have Brian kick the chair, or Susan throw a mug. I’m also really not a fan of ‘said’ and then the name. We wouldn’t recount a tale to someone verbally saying ‘said Sarah’, would we? To me it’s like lazy (no offence, Graham!) rhyming poetry where words are inverted to make the rhyme.

      Thank you for your comments, everyone… and for Graham, of course, for writing this piece.


  3. Graham says:

    Thanks for all the comments everyone.

    My usual writing tends to include actions as Morgen so wisely says above, to demonstrate emotions than capitals or italics. The examples above are merely extremes to demonstrate my point.

    While everyone’s points are valid I still believe that the character’s voices should be identifiable enough. Also actions inserted into the dialogue further the showing not telling of the story.

    Thanks again folks



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