We have reached the last chapter in Everyday Editing by Jeff Anderson. And here is it, the good stuff, dialogue.
-Dialogue moves the narrative along and/or reveals something about a character. (I think I’ve heard that before.) Use a distinctive voice.
-We indent every time a new person speaks. The end punctuation should go inside the quotation mark.
-Dialogue can help us show rather than tell.
-Said is NOT dead. (hrm….)
“Good dialogue encompasses both what is said and not said.” – Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird
Writers are selective, they choose to write about what is important and they edit that which does not move the story along.
Anderson makes a long an impassioned arguement in favor of “said”. He firmly believes that “said” fades into the background, it’s a nonentity in the world of dialogue tags but other words that could be substituted for “said” stand out. And you don’t want every tag to stand out. Tags should be utilitarian not art. He suggests dialogue packets- stimulus, internalization, and response, to add detail and movement and possibly leave off the tag altogether.
It’s a good arguement. One I will certainly consider at some point, possibly while I am flying home today.