Dialogue tags receive a lot of approbation, almost as much as adverbs, and for similar reasons. Employed with skill and discretion, however, I assert that dialogue tags are a powerful and under-utilized tool for characterization, narration, and storytelling.
Six Great Dialogues Review
As my wife and I noted while I was reading this, it's a good thing that my voice has a magical ability to put people to sleep, because otherwise my tendency to engage in Socratic-style arguments would probably have people force-feeding me hemlock.
Dialogue Short Stories Reviews
I made an exception this past week for a pair of short stories (they could almost be called flash fiction) that Brandon Sanderson recommends for studying dialogue. Since the stories were fine examples of both storytelling and writing craft, I decided to share a review for them, along with a review for Sanderson’s contribution to this technical style.
Dialogue Versus Conversation
So I did that. I spent weeks, even months, walking around the school, making mental notes about the ways in which people spoke to different people, how it was different depending on the person and the relationship involved, the different dialects and slangs and jargons that were employed, the patterns to the words. Then I sat down, and in my first serious attempt at a novel length work (which I still intend to finish one day), I sought to incorporate what I had learned about conversation into my dialogue. When I’d written the first sixty thousand words or so, I sent out the rough draft to a few people, and asked for feedback.
We wrapped up the last of Xenophon's historical works last week; this week we get to move into his Socratic works, the first of which is Memorabilia. Xenophon wrote this piece as a posthumous defense of his mentor and friend, to exculpate him of the crimes of which he was accused, and to generally exhibit his good character. While Plato's Dialogues get the most attention, Socrates had many other students and inspired many others, including Xenophon, to record vignettes and other writings pertaining to him, and I actually find Xenophon's Socratic writings preferable to the more famous Plato's.