I’ve recently been working with a new critique partner who has a style of writing I haven’t previously come across. Basically, she separates her dialogue from any action or dialogue tags. She always puts dialogue on its own line. To give an example:
Jake scratched his hand.
“I can’t believe I have this rash.”
“Maybe you shouldn’t have been rolling around in the grass.”
My CP says that this is a way of keeping the focus on the dialogue rather than the action preceding it. Is that true? Because I’ve never seen anyone else use this method. As an agent, I’m assuming you’ve seen about every writing style there is, so I hoped you might be able to answer me.
Thanks very much for your help with this.
Personally, I think the quotes do more than enough to keep the focus on the dialogue, and I know more than one agent and editor who would say pulling out the dialogue tags like the example above just highlights an overuse of everything but the basic “said.”
But if I have to get all Shrunk-and-White on her ass, I think it’s just WRONG. It reminds me of the authors who query me without following a single submission guideline, just because they want their work to stand out. It does, but not in the way they want.
The best idea is to use standard formatting, grammar, and punctuation, and let the story and your writing be the stand-out factor.