Yesterday I saw one of those current fonts of irrefutable wisdom, a FaceBook meme, saying not to have characters snorting in laughing or sneering out their lines. You know what I mean. Trouble is, does the person who created that meme?
The idea that you can’t use action to tag or bracket dialogue is pretty stupid and petty, but not that extreme as lame writing advice goes on occasion. You see people telling you that you can’t use ANY speech tag other than “said”. I await somebody telling you not to use even that.
This is a good example of exactly what I am talking about when I tell you to ignore all this static. I get a personal sense of irony when some of the same people who go ballistic when I say that writing has very little technique… then make a career out of telling you anything you might use that even looks like a technique to them is taboo.
They are telling you that there is something wrong with a line like “Yeah, right,” she snorted. Insecure newbies don’t question that. And start passing that dumb advice on in their own posts and blogs. I’m giving you credit for having the ability to ask, “Hey, yeah, what’s wrong with that line?” (Snorting that question is optional.)
And the thing is, it’s pretty damned hard to find a reason that line should be abolished and shunned. It’s an act of faith, actually. Unquestioning acceptance of dogma. Which is not mentioned in any English grammar text in the world… just cooked up by that tribe of writers with no sales who tell you what not to do. Sure, if you ask you’ll get some of the standard nonsense like “It’s lazy writing” or “It draws the reader out of the book”—non-answers that just beg the question off to other faith-based nonsense. In point of actual fact, there is no reason not to use that kind of tag, and anybody who can’t figure that out on their own can quickly find examples of it in successful published books, probably by their favorite authors. Telling writers to only use “said” or even to stick to tags that aren’t… whatever “snorted” is… is like telling painters to use only blue in their paintings.