I wrote a book, and it was published last year about this time.
During the editing process I found out that my use of the Said or Asked Tagging Rule didn’t cut it for two reasons.
One: Following the rule made me lazy. I found that I avoided talking head syndrome by using descriptors ONLY when the conversation went on for more than a couple of sentences. Therefore, I missed opportunities of digging deeper.
Two: When following the said/asked tagging rule, I didn’t consider the overused word rule. And I was forced to address the problem when my editor got her hands on the manuscript. I could have avoided cleaning up the mess if I only thought about it.
As you know, the convention is to only use said or asked when tagging dialogue. It’s also okay to tag every third line when there are two speakers. Another alternative is to use stage direction or an emotional descriptor to show who the speaker is.
I learned this lesson well when I faced correcting my manuscript. A lesson I will not soon forget.
I’m sharing this because once I completed this particular revision, my work didn’t feel the same. I wanted my beta readers to take another look and help set things right again. Somehow the work reverted to unpolished. Not much of a problem with an editor to help—but still.
Honestly, I’m glad I’m aware of the rule. I just wish I had given it the thought it deserved before I implemented it so sloppily. Anything like this happen to you? Or as a beta reader, have you come across another rule that is not as straight forward as it seems? Please share. Once is enough for me.