Dialogue tags specify which character is talking. While tags can detract from dialogue if overused, they are necessary. The most common tag is said.
“I can no longer help you,” said Frank.
This allows the reader to keep up with who is speaking without having to go back to figure it out.
According to the article Another take on Dialogue Tags, from The Editor’s Blog, (http://theeditorsblog.net/2013/12/04/another-take-on-dialogue-tags/)“Some action words are given leeway as dialogue tags in a number of genres---typically whisper and murmur, and others such as mutter, yell, holler, and cry. Romance also allows for words such as groan and moan, although those are also action words.”
“Don’t forget to bring pop to the party. Otherwise, they’ll send you out to the store,” Debbie warned.
“I can’t because I’m already making the casserole, cake and the dip,” Alice declared.
Variations of tags have a nicer flow and are acceptable.
“I think we should leave now,” Peter pointed to the clock.
Frank nodded, “Okay, I’m ready.”
Action beats are another way to communicate who is speaking. They are intended to break up a long stretch of dialogue.
“Let’s go out for pizza,” said Larry.
“That’s fine with me, but I need a babysitter.”
“You can bring little Jimmy, he has all his teeth right?”
“Yes, but I’m not up for keeping an eye on him. The last restaurant we went to he caused quite a commotion.”
Larry stood and shoved his hands in his pockets. “That’s fine. I have just enough money to treat us to pizza, not cover broken items.”
How do you use tags with your dialogue?