Inspired by Roni Griffin's excellent Let's Talk Dialogue blogfest, I'd like to make a few notes on dialogue.
Tags come to mind first. Modern tags are limited in scope and are not used to advance the story. Historically the writer could pen this: she exclaimed excitedly. Now you're better off using she said without the modifier.
That's just an opinion, though, and since it changed once before, who's to say it won't revert back as a new generation of writers come up to speed. Write however you like.
Also, if you can eliminate the tag with action, it's popular to do so. For instance:
"Good night, son," she said. She kissed her son on the forehead.
That's how not to do it. The more popular and modern method is this:
She kissed her son's forehead. "Good night, son."
Subtle. Take your pick. Again, that's just an opinion, but it's a popular opinion. So popular, in fact, that many writers will make it a goal to eliminate all tags via action. Some on this blogfest did just that, with great effect.
Grouping Action and Dialogue
I'm not sure how many of us mind this rule. I suggest you group your action with action, and your dialogue with dialogue. This was the biggest violation I saw on this blogfest. Self-included.
She tucked the covers over her son's chest. "Good night." She kissed his forehead. "I love you."
Her son rolled over. "Stop it, Mom, I'm too old for that."
Again, that's how not to do it. Try this instead, grouping action on action, dialogue on dialogue:
She tucked the covers over her son's chest and kissed his forehead. "Good night, son. I love you".
"Stop it, Mom, I'm too old for that." Her son rolled over.
If the body language is necessary for the dialogue, insert it, but try not to break up the dialogue with needless nodding, gesturing, shrugs, and so forth. For instance:
"I don't know." He shrugged. He nodded. He waved his hands and squinted and smiled and please stop the needless action and continue with the dialogue. "Maybe I should have known better."
Instead, write this:
"I don't know. Maybe I should have known better."
Anyway. Just a couple of quick thoughts on the dialogue stuffages as inspired by the blogfest.
What are your thoughts? Did you learn something new? Re-learn something old you'd forgotten?
I sure did. I realized I'd been getting lazy on my tags... some of yall humbled me with your dialogue constructs.