I’ve read quite a few blogs about the evilness of dialogue tags. For example, Joe Moore wrote in The Kill Zone how new authors are overusing the alternatives of said.
They go to: exclaimed, murmured, screamed, whispered, pleaded, shrieked, demanded, ordered, cried, shouted, and my all-time favorite, muttered.
Thing is, I as a reader, don’t care. I just don’t read dialogue tags — at all.
For example, in The Crimson League, I almost missed an action following the the dialogue tag because I automatically skipped past the paragraph.
“Describe it,” Neslan prodded. Kora obliged.
Here, I backed up and reread the above because something was missing. I had skipped everything past the name; maybe even the name too.
I have noticed myself skipping whole paragraphs while reading dialogues. Most of the time the action is just superfluous to the story; character emphasis or other parts I just don’t care about. A fictional example:
“What? You mean to tell me, “
he rose from the chair and strode towards the boy and grabbed a hold of his ear, “that someone else stole the chalice?”
the boy cried out.
In these situations, I typically don’t read the overstricken parts. My eyes simply skip to the next quote and I continue to read from there.
This is probably the reason I hate continued paragraphs, where the final symbol isn’t a close-quote but the next paragraph starts with an open-quote to signify the speaker is continuing.
As a writer, I believe it’s important to separate dialogue from the important action with paragraphs, because I’m surely not the only one who does this. I just don’t know how successful I am.
How much do you read around the dialogue?