I share Cormac McCarthy’s hatred for quotation marks and devised a less obtrusive way of handling dialogue.  My method comes with risk, though. People prefer familiarity. On a whim, I started adding dialogue tags to my novel and I had a surprising amount of fun. By including a snippet of narration, I add movement and pertinent description to the scene. Many scenes still don’t need a dialogue tag or extra narration because the dialog carries the scene and the setting of the scene is unimportant, but adding a small amount of narration makes a big difference, in a handful of scenes.

I enjoy using a nickname to describe a character and dialog tags, offer the chance to humorously nickname a character. My previous method of marking dialogue has been done before, but the method is designed for a conversation between two people and additional characters cause a problem. Few scenes, in my novel, exceed two characters; thus, the other method worked well. Both methods have benefits and I still may skip the quotation marks, but I’ve seen the benefit of adding dialog tags.

An audio book does not indicate where a quotation mark is placed, so does written text need those marks. Many people enjoy, a book being read to them. I agree with Cormac McCarthy, quotation marks are noisy little critters and text and a reader doesn’t need them — audio books prove this point. You can avoid dialogue tags; as well, but the tags add narration benefits. People talk and perform physical actions at the same time and you can use dialogue to note the physical actions, but this method has limits and dialogue tag narration pushes you past these limits.

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