So, I was reading a wonderful YA fantasy the other day. Maybe you've heard of The Red Queen by Lauren Kate? Awesome stuff. But part way through the book, I began stumbling over the author's overused, distracting, silly dialogue tags.
You know the ones? The three evil "M's"? No? Well, allow me to enlighten you...
They are murmur, mumble and mutter.
Three simple words that can take down an incredible story. Plot all you want. Drive characters deep, but when you, the author, repeatedly ignore common sence BEWARE! You may lose your reader.
I was forgiving of this author because I generally like her work. I did, however, feel cheated that I had to skip these irritating tags in order to enjoy the story. It's a bit like doing the work for the writer. If I'm going to be an editor, I want my money back!
In this fickle world where there are more books than readers (probably. At least it FEELS that way), authors need to do whatever they can to keep a story flowing. And when a reader stumbles over such silly words (how do you murmur a sentence?) you take them out of your story.
So, don't use them. Use "said" or action beats, and whatever you do, please don't let your characters snip, snap or breathe the words.