Attributions and tags are the verbs that indicate speech, such as said, yelled, retorted, and so on. Said is a perfectly good, unobtrusive little word; some of its more colorful counterparts can be distracting. Strong dialogue often makes tags redundant.
“Stop or I'll shoot!” she cried.
The dialogue shows that she’s upset and loud. Cried is unnecessary. Remember: Moderation in all things.
Beats are the actions that accompany dialogue and show how the speaker is feeling or reacting.
The envelope lay unopened on the desk. Albert wiped his brow. “It came today.”Albert, hands tucked in his pockets, stared out the window. “It came today.”
Albert picked up the envelope and smiled. “It came today.”
Albert waved the envelope and grinned. “It came today.”
Kendall. I’m not drunk and it’s not your business.”
“It’s my business if it affects my case. Or my partner.” Damn touchy son of a bitch. The dumb jerk hadn’t learned anything. She could smell the bourbon.
“Your case? How the hell do you think you got it? Because I gave it to you, that’s how. You’re a goddamn babe in the woods. Do you want to solve this thing or not? Because if you do, you need my help.”
“You got that backwards, hotshot. You need my help to stay out of jail. You’re the light at the end of Grayson’s tunnel, and he’s not looking anywhere else.”
“I can take care of myself.” He stood and grabbed his coat.
How do you do it? Anything you avoid? Bits of dialogue you want to share? Any advice or words of wisdom?