More and more I'm seeing prominent (and not so prominent) authors constantly butchering their dialogue. I'm guilty of some mistakes myself, so I found this excellent article on writing dialogue. http://www.mcrw.com/lovenotes/dialoguedemo.htm It addresses so many faults I see in fanfiction today, and specifies the reasoning and rules behind each point it makes. An excerpt: In other words, if the words you are putting after your speech do not directly describe the actual talking (he said, he questioned, he interjected, etc.) you MUST capitalize the first letter! WRONG "Well that's quite a girl you have there," he smiled. RIGHT "Well, that's quite a girl you have there." He smiled. This is an easy fix that can drastically improve the presentation and professionalism of a story. This error allows another error to occur: smiling words, chuckling replies, and glaring retorts: WRONG "It's no business of yours what I do with my female self," he glared. -why?- Because Harry, for all his magical ability, cannot glare words. Therefore: RIGHT "It's no business of yours what I do with my female self." He glared. It's the same problem as the first - people are using non-speech related action phrases (beats) as tag phrases. Another important excerpt: So don't be afraid to use said more than a few times in your chapters. Most readers just skip through it automatically, and unless you're using it every time, nobody will think you're being repetitive. It's easier to stand out as a rookie writer by pulling out the thesaurus for a new speech tag for every line. If it's bugging you use a beat instead.