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In my case, I never use dialogue and action tags in the same unit of dialogue (sorry, I just call them units because I had no idea what they are called).

So I would never write something like this:

Jane heaved a sigh, finally giving up. Then she raised her eyes with a warm smile. “It's nothing, Dad," she said. "I'm just a little worn out. That's all.”

I think I read somewhere (I don't remember where) that it's unnecessary since I already have an action tag at the beginning (so it's clear who is saying the line.)

Still, I've seen writers adding the he said/she said after having used an action tag. I'm not very sure why they do it. I guess to make the piece flow better or add a small pause?

Is it usually better to not to mix dialogue and action tags in the same "dialogue unit?" If not, what are the situations you would like to do so?

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OT, but in your sample above, it should be "Dad" not "dad," since "Dad" is being used as a proper noun. Example: My dad is great. Example: I love you, Dad. (I mention this because you've said before that you're not a native English speaker, and you want to improve your English writing. Not trying to be the grammar police.) – dmm Oct 10 '13 at 16:52
@dmm Oh, thanks. I will correct that. – Alexandro Chen Oct 11 '13 at 1:51
up vote 5 down vote accepted

It's about rhythm. Putting she said gives readers a tiny pause as they read that bit of dialogue. Sometimes people call that small pause a beat.

An alternative is to insert a small action instead of she said. But she said works nicely if you don't want a new action in there.

You can also rearrange the sentence to so that you get a beat without adding either she said or a new action:

Jane heaved a sigh, finally giving up. “It's nothing, dad." She raised her eyes with a warm smile. "I'm just a little worn out. That's all.”

So play around with the possibilities. For me, the choice often comes down to rhythm, pacing, and the sound of how the sentences flow.

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