Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Tip from Tara: The Word Hiss

Many of you know that besides being a writer, I'm also an editor. When I'm not writing, I'm sitting here looking at someone else's writing, leaving comments about their story, correcting their grammar and punctuation, explaining what a head hop is...and I've decided to every now and then, when I have a free day on here, to provide a few tips for writers.

I actually had an editor tell me this long ago, and now I'm sharing it because I'm seeing it more and more. So, here goes:

Can you pick the correct sentence?

A. "How could you?" she hissed.

B. "You'll pay for this," she hissed.

C. "Leave me alone," she hissed.

If you answered B, you are correct. Tell me, how do you hiss a sentence without an S? And yet, you see the word hissed used as a dialogue tag all the time in sentences such as A and C. WRONG!

So when you find yourself using HISSED as a dialogue tag, stop and look at that sentence. If you're saying "Your ass is grass!" you're on the right track. You can really hiss that! Try it. Say it out loud. Your assss is grasssss.

But if you are saying "Leave me alone," eh...

Have a fantasssstic day!


  1. Looking forward to any tips you post. Thanks Tara!:)

  2. I'm not a fan of hissing. I might slip it in once every three or four manuscripts :) but it doesn't sit well with me so I usually take it out later. I may have used it once because the character name was Melissa and that's hissable but it's still not my fav.
    I have nightmares of all the hissing and muttering and mumbling from all the Twilight books so I'm pretty careful with my dialogue tags.

  3. Glad this went over well. Tried to put enough of my natural smart assiness to make it entertaining and not just a lecture. LOL Thanks, everyone for the comments.

  4. Interesting! That's one I didn't know. :)