Tip Tuesday — Say What?

“Hi,” Ben said.
“Hello, Julie replied.
“I wasn’t expected to see you here,” Ben said.
“It was a last minute decision,” Julie said.
“Well, I’m glad your here,” Ben said.
“Me, too,” Julie said.

Speech tags. They are needed except when they’re not. The above piece of dialogue is stiff and clunky and just NOOOOO.

You don’t need a speech tag for every single freaking line of dialogue. I promise. Yes, sometimes you do need speech tags to make it clear who’s speaking but it isn’t required for each line. And there are other things that you can add to clarify who’s talking and also add to the scene.

“Hi,” Ben said.
“Hello.” Julie smiled nervously.
“I wasn’t expected to see you here.”
She shrugged her left shoulder. “It was a last minute decision.”
“Well, I’m glad your here.” Ben eyes crinkled, taking away Julie’s nervousness.
“Me, too.”

Same words, but a much better scene. We know get a bit more insight into what’s happening and it’s still crystal clear who’s saying what.

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