One giveaway that I’m working on a manuscript by a fairly new writer (or with a writer who hasn’t worked with an editor before) is an abundant variety of dialogue tags.

Elmore Leonard advises writers┬áto use only “said.” (Don’t know who Elmore Leonard is? Raylan Givens is shaking a finger at you and insisting you educate yourself. He’ll wait while you do so.)

I try to limit the variety of dialogue tags I use in my own writing and to limit them when I’m editing others’ writing, but I admit Mr. Leonard would argue I stray too often as I will sometimes use “answered,” “added,” and “replied,” among a few others.

With that said, consider this mess:

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