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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Time Off and New Perspective

While I did a little bit of work on "Where Power Lies" over the long weekend, adding a few touches here and there, I really got back to work on it this morning. I set out to make sure that important revelations of theories and motives came about in the proper sequence, not saying too much too soon. In the process, I took notice of an important point about tags in dialog.

Here is a brief passage from the start of Chapter 8:

Reese turned onto a sleepy residential street in an older neighborhood. Nothing moved along the shaded walks, and all the businesses were closed and dark.. He pulled into an alley behind a long row of apartment buildings.

"Who's Jeanie?" I asked.

"Nobody," he replied. "It's a code for an emergency."

Nothing all that wrong, really, but the last sentence has the tag "he replied" which caught my eye. It's not necessary. The first paragraph establishes who Dee is with, and the tag on her question sets the order of who is saying what. The "he replied" adds nothing--no emotion, no action, nothing. Leaving it out will not cause any confusion. The last sentence became:

"Nobody. It's a code for an emergency."

A small thing, but unneeded words should always be avoided. Over the course of a conversational passage, the overuse of tags breaks things up and becomes annoying, a sing-song rhythm.

So once again, I set out with one goal in mind and get distracted by small things. Oh, well. It'll all get done eventually.

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