Sunday, October 14, 2012

Short Stories, Flash Fiction, Tags

Welcome back to my short story/flash fiction series. Today's post is on tags or the lack thereof. First read the excerpt from my Romantic Friday Writers, Birthday Madness post.

“Libra.” A middle aged woman greeted her.

“I’m sorry, Amaia, what do you mean?” Shika admired Amaia’s long black locks that curled tight against the colorful scarf she wore and followed her to a table.

“What question do you have for me tonight?” Amaia asked.

Shika sat. “None.”

“Ah…I think you are troubled on this, your 24th Birthday.”

“How did you know?” Amaia gestured toward the heavens. The moon was a sliver and the night sky swam with stars. “Do you see that constellation there?” She pointed to a brilliant set of stars. “They shine bright for you tonight, Shika. They are Libra, as are you.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Is it not your Birthday?”


“Then Libra is your birth sign, you possess all the qualities.”

“What qualities?”

“You harbor us. Exchanging your food for our herbal remedies to tend to your serfs. You bring peace and order to your household and endure an unfaithful husband.”

“Are they not all unfaithful?”

“Perhaps. You stand against social opinion and never beat your servants nor speak a word of anger against them.”

“They serve my needs better when I treat them with respect.”

“There you see, my sweet Libra, even your words now are kind toward those that others loathe.”

Violins played. A group of women had begun to dance.

There you have it. What is missing? Tags. According to 'Self Editing for the Fiction Writer,' 4th edition by Renne and King, New York editors, tags are unnecessary most of the time. If you have two characters talking they aren't necessary at all. Just be sure that you remind the reader who one is with a descriptive sentence once in a while. Also the use of language. How does one character phrase a sentence compared to the other? When working with flash fiction, you have to take this advice to a whole new level. You simply don't have the words to use a lot of tags. When you do use tags instead of description, use the word 'said.' Readers glide over the word 'said' barely noticing it. If you use single descriptive words like 'bark' to evoke anger it is better not to. People don't 'bark.' Description is a gesture, a movement of some type that the character does while they are speaking.  Also using little reminders within the text is good. My gypsy refered to Shika as 'Libra' more than once. This gives flavor to the story and reminds the reader that gypsies were known for their fortunetelling.

I highly recommend 'Self Editing for the Fiction Writer,' by Renne and King.  I have the 4th edition but there are newer ones. You can get it from or your local bookstore. I don't receive any money by referring you to purchase from Amazon.

I hope this helped. Please let me know what you think in the comments.

This Friday is a very important Romantic Friday Writers post. Oh yeah baby! It's not to late for you to sign up. 1,000 words. That's almost a short story. Subject, House of Horror! It's almost Halloween and we are celebrating. This time there will be judges. Romantic Friday Writers is followed by editors and publishers. It's worth your time.

Malware Virus Update: Francine Howarth emailed me a link for Microsoft. I went there, found the program for my computer and downloaded it and hurray, I'm saved. All my files are clean. You have no idea how up set I was. Thank you, thank you Francine.

Here's the link:


Denise Covey said...

Great post Nancy. I must get that self editing book. Sounds very helpful. Funny how often the big names use tags, but I agree, in flash fiction they are a waste of precious words.
Thanks for the shout out for the Halloween blogfest. I hope some are under the misconception that you have to wait till Friday to sign up as I thought there'd be lots more for this one! Maybe we can't write 1,000 words anymore after all the 400 word exercises! :D

N. R. Williams said...

Hi Denise
That book is a life saver. You're welcome for the shout out. I'll advertise on Facebook too.

Yolanda Renee said...

Good advice, and I to need to buy that book.

So looking forward to the Haunted horror stories.

So glad your computer problem is fixed.

N. R. Williams said...

Hi Yolanda
Me too on all counts. Thanks for stopping by.

Maria McKenzie said...

N.R., I enjoyed your excerpt! And great advice about tags:).