by Alison Dasho
"Boy, I sure do love the summertime," she declared.
"Say, could you hand me that pitcher of sangria?" he implored.
"This pesto pasta salad is divine," she nodded.
"Careful to save room for ice cream sandwiches," he warned.
Could you tell which thing is not like the other?
In the above dialogue, there are three speech tags, and one action tag:
Action tags aren't treated the same way as speech tags -- the example above should be punctuated by a period, not a comma:
"This pesto pasta salad is divine." She nodded.
Remember, if the tag you're adding to your dialogue describes action and not speech, it needs to be its own sentence.
And one last thing, though I know you hear this again and again [and again]: Please resist the temptation to use varied and complicated speech tags with every line of dialogue. Said and asked are truly all you need 85% of the time. Maybe even 90%. (Maybe 95%!) Your dialogue itself should convey the tone of voice in which it's spoken -- fancy speech tags will only slow your reader, or distract her. And resist the urge to slap an adverb in there, too.
“My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way," Hemingway uttered declaratively.