Beats and Tags Continued
Hello Friends and New Readers. Welcome to the Thursday edition of Soul Mate Publishing blog. I write historical romance twisted with suspense under the pen name Wareeze Woodson. I have six books published with Soul Mate Publishing: Conduct Unbecoming of a Gentleman, An Enduring Love, A Lady’s Vanishing Choices, Captured by the Viscount, and a historical western Bittersweep. The Earl’s Scandalous Wager is under contract, but I do not have a cover yet.
Today, I’d like to discuss beats and tags a little more thoroughly. Some say I use too many tags and even beats. Perhaps I do, but the reader needs to know who is speaking during the dialogue. I personally like beats and tags mixed.
We’ll tackle tags first. A tag identifies each speaker in the dialogue: He said, commanded, declared, informed and words along those lines are tags to identify the speaker. Often, the person’s name or position is used as an identifier as well.
Example from Captured by the Viscount
“A likely story,” he snapped, his tone sharp, dismissive. “You are a liar as well as a thief. Both are reprehensible. I despise both equally.”
He snapped replaces said in this example. His tone sharp, dismissive is a tag mixed with a phrase to enhance the description of the tone without being an action. (An action would have been a beat.)
A beat is an action letting the reader know the identity of the person speaking. An example from Captured by the Viscount.
He advanced across the room and relieved her of her satchel. “Well, well, little thief, what do we have here?” Bouncing the bag in his hand, he kept his gun trained on her and motioned to a chair. “You’d best sit, while I see exactly what this contains.”
The readers understands (He) is the one speaking. The actions also allows the reader to know the identity by his actions alone. He is the one with the gun.
Now for tags and beats together. A tag is he said, snapped, demanded, etc. while a beat is an action. This example shows a tag mixed with a beat. Example also from Captured by the Viscount.
“Damn. That wasn’t my intention,” he muttered and loosened his grip, shaking her slightly. “Behave, or it shall not go well with you.”
He muttered replaces said, therefore it is a tag. Loosened his grip, shaking her slightly is all action, therefore that is a beat. A tag mixed with a beat.
I hope I have not confused any of you. Mixing tags and beats keep the work more interesting. Without descriptions, tags and beats, the work with a litany of he said, she said would be dull indeed. Example:
“I do apologize, my dear. But I can’t trust you not to raise the alarm and draw attention to your captivity. I must abandon you for a spell. I shall return as soon as possible. Never fear.”
The reader can tell the person speaking from the dialogue, but the passage is more interesting with the beats and tags as below.
“I do apologize, my dear. But I can’t trust you not to raise the alarm and draw attention to your captivity.” He reached for a linen cloth and gently blotted her forehead, her cheeks, and her throat to remove the remaining drops of rain. “I must abandon you for a spell.” He held up one finger. Before he quit the room, he added, “I shall return as soon as possible. Never fear.”
Beats and tags in place make the story more interesting. Thank you for taking the time to read my offering to the Soul Mate Publishing blog.
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