Before we jet off to Cancun for a little R&R (our first real vacation in 4 years!), here's some dialogue do's and don't's to consider from my upcoming dialogue class (see: http://www.christinefairchild.com/classes.html)
Don’t… use a lot of dialogue tags, such as “he/she said” or “he explained” or “she asked.” They are not as invisible when used en masse. Use them sparingly.
Do… Make it clear who is speaking by attaching dialogue to the character’s action. But don’t overdue this either. Again, moderation and variation of pattern is best to maintain reader interest.
Don’t… Use alternate dialogue tags too much, such as “he muttered” or “she prattled” or “he eviscerated.” The more unique the tag, unfortunately, the more attention it calls to itself. You don’t want to reader stumbling over something that should be invisible. These break the reader out of the story.
Do… Sprinkle a few variations in the manuscript when they are the best and/or the only way to show specific behavior, such as “he whispered” or “she growled” or “he mumbled.” When it naturally matches the action or plot events, then it will blend in better.
Don’t… Attach adverbs to dialogue tags, such as “he said wistfully” or “she asked regretfully.” This is a sure sign to agents and editors that the author is an amateur. Use action to show these emotions instead.
Do… Use verbs and nouns instead, such as “she said, her face blushing.”
Go forth and conquer, Angels.
Regards, Your Editor Devil