I'm wondering if readers even notice this. I know that I didn't until it was pointed out to me in the editing phase of my story "Playing Man" (which was published in QUANTUM ZOO
). I was informed by D.J. Gelner, my editor (who did an outstanding job, by the way) that the convention was to place the dialog tag at the end of the sentence, and it should be "Bob said," instead of "said Bob." For example:
"I really want to try playing that Beatles song," Rich said.
"Which one? There are a million of them!" Peter said.
"Let's do them all," Carter suggested.
Is that qualitatively better than the alternative:
"I really want to try playing that Beatles song," said Rich.
"Which one? There are a million of them!" said Peter.
"Let's do them all," suggested Carter.
To me, they both read the same. I read the tag and it vaguely registers as an identification of the speaker. After being informed of the accepted (or proper?) way to write it, I started noticing, and while most fiction, especially indie fiction, does it the "right" way, Orson Scott Card's book RUINS
mixed them up indiscriminately. And so do I, in most of my fiction. As I read my short stories and longer works, I find both forms used, with no rhyme or reason to the usage except for the rhythm of the words in my head.
In other words, if it sounded right one way, I wrote it that way. And vice versa.
I don't know if it is "wrong" to do it that way, so I've been trying to make everything conform to D.J.'s rules. But if I miss one, forgive me.