Someone once told me after reading my first chapter that one of the tells of a new writer was the overuse of varying dialogue tags. So what did I do? Of course I listened right away, right? Um. Nope. I, again, pored through all of my favorite books to validate what this very knowledgeable person had told me from page one. Suffice to say, she was right. *already kind of knew it, but felt the need to read through my favorite books anyway...innocent whistle*
Not only did she point out the overuse of dialogue tags, but gave me reasons why they distracted from the story and why they should be used sparingly. It's sort of like when you have a perfectly good recipe for soup or *insert food item here* and oversalt or over*insert condiment here* it. The story is the soup. The unnecessary loadage of crap is the salt. Savvy? (That just made me think of Jack Sparrow...tee hee)
Let me give you an example:
"Lyra!" I exclaimed in surprise and grabbed my sister by the arm. "You're so going to get in trouble with Dad!"
"Not if you don't tell him!" Lyra hissed back.
"What did you do anyway?" I inquired, trying to keep myself contained.
"It was nothing. Just some stupid prank that got out of hand," Lyra replied, looking away with that guilty look in her eyes.
Now, without the unnecessary baggage:
"Lyra!" I grabbed my sister by the arm. "You're so going to get in trouble with Dad!"
"Not if you don't tell him!" Lyra hissed.
"What did you do anyway?"
"It was nothing. Just some stupid prank that got out of hand." She looked away, her expression guilt-ridden.
Okay, you have to forgive the examples. Coming up with them on the fly is harder than it seems. LOL But do you see what I mean? I know that looking through my first chapter again after I changed something as small as the characters' dialogue tags helped with story flow. I didn't realize just how much of a distraction they were. I'm not saying not to use a variety. But like so many before me have said, use those variations sparingly.
Here are some great links to more on dialogue tags:
Susan Dennard's Blog
Kiersten White's Blog
And a personal favorite of mine - My ever so frawesomesaucefull CP Lori Lee's Blog
How do you guys feel about dialogue tags?