“The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible.”~Vladimir Nabakov
Welcome to Writers’ Corner. I hope you’ve had a productive writing week, making your invisible words come to life.
Today, we’re going to discuss taglines. When I first started writing, the more descriptive the tagline, the better. Characters exclaimed, lamented, inferred, intimated, scolded, interjected, and yelled. Those exciting and descriptive tags were banished by editors who informed us such excitement detracts from our writing.
Hence, the he said/she said formula reigned supreme.
Within the last few years, however, fiction has trended toward no tags.
Or in the words of novelist Elmore Leonard: “I try to leave out the parts that people skip.”
Are you wondering how this could be accomplished? Here’s an example:
“Have some juice.” John extended the orange juice pitcher.
Brenda didn’t want juice. In fact, she didn’t want to be sharing a table with someone who had betrayed her. Besides, she hated orange juice. And he knew it. Probably the reason he offered it. “No, thank you.”
John thumped the pitcher on the table, sloshing the juice over the top.
“Now you’ve done it.” Brenda reached for a dishtowel. “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a million times.”
“You’ve told me what?” John scowled over his forkful of eggs.
“Clumsy.” Brenda returned his scowl and reached for her fork. If she tried hard enough to ignore him, maybe he’d take the hint and disappear. For good.
Because I didn’t insert he said/she said tags, your eye skimmed over the story quicker, thus drawing you into the conversation better.
This example also ties in with my previous blog about hooking the reader. This could easily be used as an opening paragraph, and again, not much information has been given the reader, but that’s okay. The atmosphere has been created. The characters are in conflict. It’s a good start.
So, the challenge this week is—look at your WIP and see how many he said/she said tags you can delete and rewrite.
For a more in-depth look at writing without tags, visit award-winning novelist Gail Gaymer Martin’s website Writing Fiction Right. She’s my go-to guru for all things written.
If you have any suggestions for future blogs on topics you’d like illustrated or elaborated on, please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.