I’ve seen a lotta dialogue errors as I’ve been critiquing in scribophile. I think most people know them implicitly, but it doesn’t hurt to lay them out there. Sooooooo…..
here it goes!
Dialogue that precedes or follows a beat (a character action) is attributed to that writer. Example
“I hate you!” Donald threw a chair.
Mary folded her arms. “So why did you marry me?”
[so far it’s clear]
Donald rushed toward Mary. She lifted her hands. “Okay!”
[not clear because there’s two beats from two different people.]
Dialogue in its own paragraph should have a tag, unless a pattern has been established. Example
“It appears it shall rain today,” Gruff said.
“Aye, it shall,” said Tom.
“You suppose we’ll see lightning?”
“How’s that wife of yours?”
[it’s okay to drop the tags because the pattern has been established. Now for a bad example.]
Timothy gazed at the horizon. Malory approached, taking a seat next to him.
The sun drooped over the mountains….
[confusing because it could have been Timothy or Malory].
Hope this helps!