The following link is to an article by the talented Bryn Donovan. There are so many articles on her site and blog that actually made me think about all the things that were weak in my sentences. You can read more of her articles at http://www.bryndonovan.com/
Anyway, the great thing about this post is how much it has improved the dialogue in the novella I’ve been writing. At first glance, I thought that it was natural and flowed well. Occasionally it seemed to be missing something, but I could just cover it with a “he said” or “she replied.”
This was completely wrong!
Not that ‘speaking verbs’ are a bad thing. They are a staple of any work of fiction. However, the overuse can make the sentences a little clunky. The last thing I want is to have a reader step away from the world I want to immerse them in.
So the answer is perfect in its simplicity: Show the actions before, during and after the words that are being spoken. In this way, you still have the characters talking to each other, but you get so much more depth to the scene. Genius.