As in real life, our characters sometimes need to pause and reflect on something before responding. This silent beat is often indicated with an ellipsis or the word finally, as in, “Yes,” she said finally. Nothing wrong with marking a beat this way, but here are some alternatives you can use to invigorate some of the beats in your dialogue.
With only two characters, we can get away with less dialogue tags and cues—also referred to as character, emotion, or action beats—because if we know who’s speaking first, we can intuit that the next pair of quotes encloses dialogue from the only other character in the scene. But with groups of more than two speakers, scenes can become cluttered with dialogue tags and cues, which can make a passage more stilted than it needs to be. Here are three techniques that can help. Click the title above to continue reading.