So generally I look back on my older writing and feel much less disappointed and/or embarrassed than I think most authors do. In fact quite often I'm seriously impressed and even find a page or two to take from past me's style. But there's a huge exception that single-handedly makes me nervous to re-read some of my older work: preceding dialogue tags.

I went through this phase where I apparently thought it was super clever and dynamic to write something like this:

"I'm still hungry." John frowned at his empty plate and said, "I want more quinoa."

So basically most often I'd combine an action tag with a dialogue tag, but with the dialogue tag part coming at the end instead of the beginning. Nowadays I'd write:

"I'm still hungry." John frowned at his empty plate. "I want more quinoa."

And I think the root of the problem is that in addition to being awkward and overly attention-grabbing in a negative way, it's pretty much always redundant since an action tag could simply standalone between two bits of same-character dialogue.

Sometimes I wouldn't have beginning dialogue and would instead just do it like:

John frowned at his empty plate and said, "I'm still hungry. I want more quinoa."

But I never really wrote it without an action/description as well. I.e I didn't write it as:

John said, "I'm still hungry. I want more quinoa."

But occasionally I'd do it with a question instead:

John frowned at his empty plate and asked, "Is there anymore quinoa?"

Anyway, is this as mortifying as it feels in retrospect? Has anyone else gone through a phase of writing like this? Or does anyone still write like this and have a defense for it? Has anyone seen this practice in a published novel? I suppose I'm just going for a general discussion with this thread.

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Note: I'm not talking about divided dialogue, which I still do and consider completely fine:

"The quinoa was delicious," John said with a smile, "and I'd quite like some more."

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