Today's tip is about a common error we see authors making, and it will come in handy as you practice your showing skills during our summer workshops.
Blocking that is attached to dialogue typically becomes a separate sentence.
(Quick reminder: "blocking" is when you describe the action that's occurring during a dialogue scene. It's a great way to remind your readers who's talking without using dialogue tags, as well as to demonstrate emotions and conflicts.)
WRONG: "I'm tired of school," she scowled.
She scowled is a separate action from the dialogue, so it doesn't belong in the sentence.
RIGHT: "I'm tired of school." She scowled.
WRONG: "I can't do it," she stepped back.
RIGHT: "I can't do it." She stepped back.
Sometimes it can be tricky to decide if you're using blocking or a dialogue tag, since some verbs can function either way. Words like groaned, laughed, cried, sighed can potentially describe how something is said, or an action taken in addition to the dialogue. When you run across one of those types of verbs, ask yourself if it's describing the way the words were said or the action taken by the character to decide which style of punctuation you need.
Every Wednesday and Saturday we bring you an edit tip of the day. Be sure to check out the archives for our popular summer series of SHOW DON'T TELL workshops!