#2 – DIALOGUE – ADVERBIAL TAGS

RESTORE BY NUMBERS

I provide a passage from a master that has been vandalized (by me) at the numbered locations.  You restore the original. 

THE CRIME:

“. . . What shall we call him?”

“Would you like Ebony?” said she ingratiatingly (1).  “He is as black as ebony.”

“No, not Ebony,” he replied decidedly (2).

“Will you call him Blackbird, like your uncle’s old horse?” she asked helpfully (3).

“No, he is far handsomer than old Blackbird ever was,” he replied patronizingly (4).

“Yes,” she said agreeably (5).  “He is really quite a beauty . . . What do you say to calling him Black Beauty?”

“Black Beauty – why yes, I think that is a very good name,” he said approvingly (6).  “If you like it, it shall be his name.”  And so it was.

Clue:

Key on the adverb in the dialogue tag.

Copy and paste the passage elsewhere in order to edit it.  Then check E.J.’s comments below.

A Tip:

An adverb in the dialogue tag is almost always superfluous.  For fun, google “Tom Swifties”.

THE ORIGINAL (Anna Sewell in “Black Beauty”)

“. . . What shall we call him?”

“Would you like Ebony?” said she (1).  “He is as black as ebony.”

“No, not Ebony.” (2)

“Will you call him Blackbird, like your uncle’s old horse?” (3)

“No, he is far handsomer than old Blackbird ever was.” (4)

“Yes,” she said (5).  “He is really quite a beauty . . . What do you say to calling him Black Beauty?”

“Black Beauty – why yes, I think that is a very good name. (6)  If you like it, it shall be his name.”  And so it was.

E.J.’s Comments:

(2), (3), (4), & (6) The whole tag is superfluous, not just the adverb.

“I hope you get the point,” I say pointedly.

Bonus Tip:  The “said she” and “she said” keep the speaker identified.  By the way, “said she” is almost always antiquated.  But sometimes it can still work in our writing.

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About EJ Lavoie

Writer and independent publisher with website www.WhiskyJackPublishing.ca
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