I once read an article about writing dialogue that, for the most part, was brilliant. Until I came to this piece of advice:
Don't use tags for your dialogue. Ever.
So, I decided to try a little exercise. Take an ordinary piece of dialogue and leave out any tags:
How was your day?
It was fine.
Did you see Lindsay?
No, why would I?
She smiled up at him. "How was your day?"
He kissed the tip of her nose. "It was fine," he said as he ran his hands up her arms.
She shivered with delight. "Did you see Lindsay?"
He chuckled as he bent down to kiss her jawline. "No," he whispered into her neck, "why would I?"
It might just be me, but that changes things, doesn't it? Okay, let's change things around and see what happens:
"How was your day?" She asked nervously, looking around to see if anyone was in earshot.
He sighed as he removed his jacket. "It was fine," he answered without meeting her eyes.
She bit her lip, trying to think of a way to frame her question. She took a deep breath, "Did you see Lindsay?"
His back was to her as he hung his jacket on the peg. She thought she noticed his back stiffen, but she couldn't be sure.
"No," he said slowly. "Why would I?"
I did this a few more times, but you get the idea.
I'm curious about what you think. Can you pull off dialogue with few or no tags?
For fun, take the original conversation I posted up top, and shake it up!
In the comment section post a completely different scenario- male or female, lovers or friends- whatever... just show me what different tags do to this dialogue.