I've realized I'm ready to drop the rules talk. This means all those tiresome scribbles about dialogue tags, and passive voice, and its kissing cousin past progressive (which many people mistakenly call passive voice).* I'm not saying I've fixed all those little errors in my drafting (my worst is using pronouns when there are several characters of the same sex in a scene).
But hereby let it be known, I have examined my options and constructed each sentence with clear intention. My intention may be mistaken, but gone are the days of my just throwing words together willy-nilly in a frenzy of drafting euphoria, look at me, I am writer, see me roar! If I'm breaking a rule, it's cuz I damned well wanted to.
Like there, see, I intended for that sentence to end with a preposition cuz it so well illustrated my point.
The sad thing is, though, some people might not have even noticed it unless I pointed it out.
*Passive voice is when the subject (actor) of the sentence is being acted upon rather than doing the acting. (The boy was bitten by the dog.) I've heard the argument made that the only person belonging in passive construction is a dead one. Past Progressive** indicates actions taking place whilst other actions are taking place in another sentence or clauses. (The dog was biting the boy as the police man took aim.) It's too damned early for examples; the Internet will have some, I'm sure. People who call past progressive construction passive voice probably aren't thinking in terms of subject, verb, and object.
**the page where I culled these examples actually used past progressive construction as an example of active voice. heh.