Language Audit For Your Marketing Content

I love helping people fix their words, giving them the power to make their words stand out. I had the opportunity to do that last week for a woman who wanted guidance on how to improve the wording in her marketing emails. As I put together my recommendations for her, a lightbulb went on in my head – why not offer people a Language Audit.

This year I’ve been concentrating on my content training courses, but a course isn’t for everyone. Some people want to learn as they go, and my Language Audit service will give them the opportunity to do that. Basically, I’ll be their writer on top, who they can call on as they create their document for advice on how to add sparkle to the language in their documents.

How the Service Works

You can send me your documents as you create them, so you won’t lose momentum while you’re creating your marketing content. Or you can wait till you’re finished all your documents and send them in a batch before you release them to the world.

I will them draw up a few practical guidelines that you can act on straight away, to help you improve the wording of your documents. This isn’t an edit; it’s about helping you make changes yourself, so you can improve your writing skills and enhance the quality of all the content you create.

Ways to Improve your Language

The guidelines I give you take three forms. First, I’ll highlight ‘weed words’ for you to get rid of. These are words that are used so often that they’ve almost lost their meaning and they lessen the impact of your sentences. If you have too many adverbs or adverbs or too many crutch words like ‘actually,’ ‘obviously’ or ‘seems.’ I’ll flag that and you can weed them out, so your blooms will shine.

This is a pic of a purple weed, with thin leaves spreading outwards on a purple background.
Weeding Out Words: Watch out for words that weaken your language and pluck them out of your content.

I’ll then guide you on words that will strengthen your content, words that create vivid images and evoke colours, sounds and scents. I’ll also encourage you to use action words that convey a sense of purpose. For example, if you say ‘The photographs are taken by me,’ I’ll encourage you to change it to ‘I take the photographs.’ It immediately sounds more proactive.

Some people have problems cutting down the length of their content, because they’re so enthusiastic about what they want to say and they’re afraid their message won’t come across. I’ll highlight ways that they can be more concise. Often, it just means something simple, like cutting down the length of your sentences, or cutting out repeated words. You’d be amazed the difference these changes make.

Why Avail of a Language Audit

This is a great option for time poor people who’d rather learn on the go, and it’s also a budget-friendly way to avail of great content advice. The price of this language is €75 for 5,000 words You don’t have to worry how much content makes up 5,000 words. I’ll set up a tab for you and let me know when you’ve reached your limit. But you’ll usually be covered for all the marketing content you create.

I hope this Language Audit service will be of value to you – it’s an efficient and effective way of improving your writing skill. You can find out more about it by dropping me an email on derbhile@writewordseditorial.ie.

How To Help Children Create Brilliant Stories

I’m feeling the Christmas spirit already – I’m busy planning a Christmas creative writing workshop for children. It’ll be my first in-person workshop in two years, so I’m very excited. I’m hoping the children will have tonnes of fun – I know I will.

But behind every fun activity is a real storytelling skill, which the children will learn without knowing it. They’ll create naughty elves, travel to faraway lands and discover who stole Rudolph’s red nose. Along the way, they’ll learn how to create characters, build real worlds and structure their stories. On top of that, they’ll learn valuable language skills.

Character Sketch

First of all, the children will create a naughty elf. This elf may or may not be the creature who stole Rudolph’s nose. They’ll create a character sketch of this elf, a profile of a character that helps you get to know them. Based on a picture I give them and some headings, they’ll come up with a name for their elf, an age, some biographical details – and a special power that the elf can put to good use. Knowing details like this about a character makes them real.

World-Building

We’ll then move on to a storytelling ingredient that children really love – setting. Your setting is the world your story happens in, and children get a great kick out of creating worlds. They’ll draw a map of their world, with mountains, rivers, valleys, streets and towns. And they’ll give their land a name. I sense this land will have a strong Christmas theme.

This pic shows a Christmas village full of red houses that have stripy cone-shaped roofs like circus tents. There’s snow on the ground but the sky is clear.

If you live near Tramore in Co. Waterford and you have a budding writer in your house aged 7-10, you’ll find out more about my workshop here.Creating Exciting Plots

We all love Rudolph’s red nose, but imagine if that nose was stolen. Who would do such a wicked thing? The children at the workshop will solve the mystery, and the Five Ws plot to help them structure their ideas. They’ll figure out who stole the red nose, when it was taken, where it was hidden – and above all, why it was stolen.

Other Fun Wordy Activities

Between story activities, we’ll have other word fun, to help the children enhance their language and writing skills. They’ll come up with words for my Christmas hat, play guessing games and create a disgusting Christmas dinner. It’ll be a packed two hours!

If you’d like your kids to join in the fun, or you want to find out about my workshops in general – I promise my workshops for adults are just as much fun – contact me on derbhile@writewordseditorial.ie.

How To Stamp Out Weak Words In Your Stories

At the moment I’m having great fun reading two books by authors who are looking to publish – and being paid for it. What a dream job for a bookworm. But I’m reading the books with a professional eye, and when I’m finished, I’ll be compiling reader’s reports, which give recommendations that will help them take their books to the next level.

In these reports, I’ll comment on how their stories work, and I’ll always, always comment on their language. Often when people ask me for a professional critique, they can’t put their finger on what’s not working in their story. But it’s not always the story that’s the problem – it’s the words we use to tell our stories.

There are words that weaken our writing without us realising it, because these words are so commonly used in everyday language. These are words that are so overused that they’ve lost their meaning, or that don’t convey the precise meaning you’re trying to convey. Or they’re words that slow down the action too much.

Alt Text: This is a word cloud featuring multicoloured words arranged in a pattern. The words all feature in this blog post and are examples of weak words. If you'd like to know what the words are, contact derbhile@writewordseditorial.ie
This word cloud features the words that I will talk about in this post, including passive voice, crutch words and filter words.

I’m going to take you through some examples of these types of ‘weak’ words, so you can banish them forever – and make your story shine.

Adjectives and Adverbs

When people are beginning to write, they don’t trust that the words they choose will say what needs to be said. So, they load their writing with overly-descriptive adverbs and adjectives, such as ‘the big angry man shouted loudly.’ If this is you, try taking out every adjective and adverb in your story. Bet you’ll discover that the rest of the words will say exactly what you need them to say.

Crutch Words

There are words we use in our everyday conversation to prop ourselves up while we’re formulating our points, words like: really, actually, like, okay. But these words don’t translate into our writing. They dilute the meaning of our sentences. If you take them out, your sentences will be shorter and sharper, and readers will feel the full impact of your words.

Repeated Words

We all have favourite words, words that we’re very attached to, and we repeat those words endlessly throughout our story. These may be words we like the sound of, such as ‘quintessential, or pronouns, such as ‘I’ or even ‘It.’ Too much repetition gets annoying for readers, so we need to drop our attachment to these words, so that we give our readers a greater variety of vocabulary. You’d also be surprised how much your word count will tumble when you remove these repeated words.

Filter Words

When you’re learning to write, you feel as if you need to explain everything, so you use a lot of filter words. Filter words explain the action, usually through sensation, such as ‘He seemed calm’ or ‘I heard the train coming.’ That means what’s happening in the story is filtered through these words, so the readers feel distanced from the action. Readers will find it much more exciting to read that ‘the train was coming.’ They’ll hear the sound themselves; they don’t need to be told.

I can give you advice on how to weed out these pesky weak words and make your story sparkle. Have a browse on my website to find out about my Writing with Me service.

Active v Passive Voice

If you’re describing an action that takes place in a story, you need to tell readers who did it. That’s why you choose the active voice over the passive voice. With the passive voice, you say the treasure was stolen; you don’t specify who stole it. Sometimes you don’t know who stole it, and then it’s okay to use the passive voice. But if you choose the active voice and say ‘A thief stole the treasure,’ it immediately conveys a sense that something important is happening, and you’ll hook readers into your story.

He Had Done It

The tense you choose for describing the action in your story may also distance readers from the action. For example, you may be writing a flashback and say, ‘Jane had gone to Spain.’ This slows down the action too much; the use of ‘had’ may give a sense that this happened in the distant past. Stick with the present tense or the simple past tense for verbs. ‘Jane was in Spain’ or ‘Jane is in Spain.’ This gives more of a sense of immediacy. 

What weak words do you want to stamp out of your stories? Send me your thoughts via derbhile@writewordseditorial.ie.

How To Deliver One-To-One Writing Workshops For Children

Recently, I’ve been surprised to find myself delivering one-to-one creative writing workshops for children. I wouldn’t have thought of offering these workshops to parents, as a one-to-one session can be quite intense, and children thrive on being able to bounce ideas off each other and have fun with their friends.

What Happens in These Writing Workshops

But I was approached by a few parents after some online writing workshops I gave this year. Their children had greatly enjoyed my workshops and didn’t want to wait until my next session of writing workshops. It started during Ireland’s long lockdown at the start of 2021, with a young boy who was writing his own book.

In August and September, I worked with a lively brother and sister duo on a story about an alien crashlanding into their house. At the moment, I’m working with two cousins on a story about a family who must rescue a treasure from a faraway land. All of these children are aged twelve and under, and it’s amazing to witness their imagination, their spirit and the progress they’ve made.

How These Writing Workshops Work

Delivering one-to-one workshops gives me the opportunity to tailor the workshops to the children’s interests, and to write stories that truly express who they are. As the two girls I’m working with are related, I thought a story about family would resonate with them, and that has turned out to be the case. There’s a strong sense of family connection in the pieces they’re writing.

If children have already begun working on projects of their own, a one-to-one workshop gives them the space to develop that project further, to learn skills that will help them bring their projects over the finishing line. For example, I showed the young boy who was writing a book how to expand his scenes, structure his story and write convincing dialogue.

You can find out more about my writing workshops for children and adults by clicking on the Solutions for Writers page on my website.

Usually, children just need a couple of one-to-one workshops to help them complete a story or develop one they’re already working on. Because they’re not having to share my time with a bunch of others, they progress much faster. While hour-long sessions work for some children, I would recommend sessions lasting 30-45 minutes, to keep up momentum and hold their attention.

Atmosphere of Writing Workshops

The atmosphere in a one-to-one workshop is a little more serious. I’ll happily admit that when I have a group of children, I join in the fun and banter. But children who go for a one-to-one workshop are more serious about their writing, so I take them seriously. I talk to them in a more grown-up way. There are still plenty of laughs, but I treat them as writers, because that is what they are.

This picture shows a little girl with blonde curly hair, wearing a blue blouse. She has a white notebook in front of her face and she’s writing in it with fierce concentration.

One-to-one workshops are a great option for children who are serious about writing. The livewires can let off steam and they create a comfortable environment for quieter children to speak, knowing they don’t have to compete with a noisy crowd. If you have a child who likes writing but isn’t into group activities, or who is working on their own book, one-to-one writing workshops could be a perfect fit.

If you’d like to find out more about my one to one writing workshops, give me a call or a WhatsApp on 0876959799.

How I Showed Entrepreneurs to Write Brilliant Content

Today I am feeling happy and relieved. That’s how you want to feel after you’ve done a presentation. The presentation I gave was for Network Ireland Waterford, an organisation for women in business. They were running a Let’s Talk Digital event; I talked about creating brilliant content and Linda O’Connell from Digi Nomad demystified SEO. 

It was delightful to get back into the content training game after the summer. I gave people a whistle-stop tour of the storytelling module on my content training course, showing people how to use the storytelling techniques of bestselling authors to create brilliant content.

Why Bother Writing Content

Before I launched into the techniques, I talked about why brilliant content is worth writing in the first place. It comes down to this. If you invest time in telling an interesting story, it will stick in people’s minds when they’re reading it.

They’ll remember you and ultimately they’re more likely to buy from you. It also saves you time because once you’ve written your story, you don’t need to keep creating content from scratch every time. And it does actually get results you can measure.

This infographic from SEMrush demonstrates the importance that companies put on content and the results they see it giving them. It shows information with percentages in coloured bubbles. For example, it says 84% of companies have a content strategies but only 11% of companies regard it as excellent.

First Storytelling Technique: Character

Then I launched into the three storytelling techniques. The first one is character. I believe that by treating customers as characters in your story, you can get under their skin, understand them better and create content that speaks to them. Authors create character sketches, or profiles of their characters, to get to know their characters.

You can a character sketch for your customers, to figure out what they buy and how they buy it. Above all, you can identify a problem they have that needs solving – and demonstrate how you can solve it.

Second Storytelling Technique: Plot

The second storytelling technique, plot, will help you tell the story of how you solve your customers’ problems. In the presentation, I talked about the three-act structure, the classic plot structure of beginning, middle and end: First, you set the scene, then you get to the heart of the action and finally you reveal the solution.

In the case of your customers, you would first lay out the problems and then talk about the actions you took to solve it. Finally, you reveal the solution you arrived at, and what outcome you achieved for your customers, both practical and emotional.

Third Storytelling Technique: The Senses and Language

The third storytelling technique centres more on the words you use when you’re telling the story. It’s called Language and The Senses, and it helps you to describe your services more vividly. You draw on all of your senses to create memorable product descriptions. You can have fun writing product descriptions comparing your product to a food, a song or a smell, and this helps customers to feel as if they’re holding your product in their hands.

Language is also important in setting the tone for your content; in other words, what kind of atmosphere do you want to create. I talked about how to choose words to describe your business and your customers, to create either a chatty, friendly tone, or a more professional, polished tone. I also showed them how to avoid the pitfalls of corporate, clichéd language.

Finally, I gave a quick plug for my content training course, and if you want to find out more about how you can learn to tell your own brilliant business story, drop me an email on derbhile@writewordseditorial.ie for more info.

How To Choose the Right Words For Your Business

I love delivering content training sessions because I get to talk about words. And I had great fun at a content training session last week, talking about one of my favourite things – how to choose the right words to describe what you’re doing. In last week’s blog post, I talked about setting a tone for your business with your language. This week, I practised what I preached with a pair of researchers who wanted to describe their project in user-friendly language.

The type of content training they wanted was quite different from the norm. Most people want to know what to say: these people wanted to know how to say it. So, the session focused on editing skills and on how to choose the right words. I began with a presentation where I talked about how to edit your text to fit your requirements.

How to Edit Your Writing

The main thing to remember when you’re editing is to figure out what central point you want to make with your content. Once you know that, you can decide what to leave in and what to take out. A lot of people feel overwhelmed by the amount of information they feel they have to put in, so deciding on a central point gives them clarity.

After you’ve decided what point you want to make, your next task is to trim down your sentences. Reading your text out loud weeds out a lot of errors, like overlong sentences, clunky phrasing and typos that spellcheck doesn’t pick up. I encouraged the two researchers to read their text out loud for clarity.


In this pic, you see a red pen hovering over a page with words on it, and there are corrections made in red pen on the margins.

I then showed the participants how to refine their text even more by weeding out words that weaken their language. This includes repeated words, crutch words we rely on too much and passive voice, saying that a project was run by Derbhile rather than the more proactive choice of saying ‘Derbhile ran the project.’

Fleshing Out Your Writing

Many people when they’re editing need to cut down their text. These two researchers had the opposite challenge. They’re naturally concise writers and they needed to bulk up. This can be more of a challenge because you have to add fresh text to what you’ve already written. I suggested they add muscle rather than fat. In other words, they would bulk out each paragraph with information they might have been holding back for fear their text would be too long. I advised against creating new paragraphs, as they would only be adding text for the sake of it.

The participants put their editing skills to the test by writing a description of their project in 250 words. I told them just to write the description first and only count the words after they stopped. I then suggested ways of bulking up their content to bring it up to 250 words. You can do this exercise in reverse as well. First write a description of your business in 250 words, then cut to 100 words and then cut again to 50. You’ll be left with the most important info, expressed in clear language.

Choosing the Right Words

The second half of the session was devoted to helping the participants use language that would set the right tone for their project. First they needed to come up with pronouns to describe themselves and their end users. Would they choose the friendly-sounding ‘we’ and ‘you pronouns?

Or would they create a professional distance by choosing ‘the project’ and ‘the users.’ Whichever they choose, I recommended that they make sure not to over-rely on these pronouns, as it can be easy to over-use them without realising it.

Finally, I asked them to come up with fifteen words to describe their project. If you remember last week’s blog post, I talked about the values words, the doing words and the senses words. They came up with a list and I encouraged them to refine it further, and not to be afraid to add playful words, ones that created a sense of excitement.

We closed off the session by editing a piece of content they had already created. Their content was good quality, which creates its own challenge, but I was able to spot repeated words, and words that were a bit vague. Above all, I encouraged them to remember that most people engaging with their project would know absolutely nothing about the subject matter. Simple, clear language wins every time.

If you’d like to learn how to add sparkle to your own words, I’d be delighted to work with you. you can email me on derbhile@writewordseditorial.ie.

Fifteen Words That Tell Your Business Story

It’s not what you say but the way that you say it, that’s what gets results. Or at least, it’s not just what you say; it’s the words you use to say it. In this blog, I’ve been concentrating on the content of your business story, but the words you choose to tell that story are just as important. Because they’re the words that people will associate with your brand.

When I’m delivering content training, I’ve discovered that people aren’t just interested in telling their story. They want to find out how to pick the right words to describe their business, as well as how to tell their story. So, this week, I’ve decided to share my thoughts about how to choose words that will resonate with your customers.


This is a word cloud, with brightly coloured words on a yellow background. The words are scattered throughout the picture to form patterns. They include words like: coffee, aroma, home, value and estate agent.  

The language you choose to describe your business and to tell your business story has a subtle but powerful effect. It sets the tone for your content and creates a particular mood: one of calm professionalism or one of fun and laughter, depending on what effect you want to create. Like the colours of a logo, the words you choose tell people how you see your business brand, and they will pick up on that and absorb the message you’re trying to convey.

We’re now going to talk about how to choose words to tell your business story and about what effect those words will have on your customers.

Words That Describe Your Business And Customers

It may seem obvious, but you first need to decide how you will refer to your business and to your customers when you’re writing your content. Some people like to use ‘we’ and ‘our’ to talk about the services they deliver, and they refer to their customers as ‘you’ or ‘our customers.’. This sets a friendly tone and gives customers the sense that you’re talking to them one to one.

Other businesses prefer to be more formal. They talk about ‘the business’ or ‘the company’ and ‘its customers.’ This is a good approach for businesses that want to present themselves in a professional way, so they can be seen as authorities in their fields. There’s also the decision about whether to refer to people who buy from you as ‘customers’ or ‘clients.’ The word ‘customers’ tends to be associated more with retail and product-based businesses, while clients tend to be seen as people who use a service.

The Fifteen Words

Marketing gurus recommend that you come up with a list of fifteen words that describe your business, and I do this exercise with people on my content training course. These fifteen words then become people’s go-to words when they’re describing their business. They’ll draw on these words when they’re writing their content, and these will then become the words their customers think of when they think of that business.

Here’s a flavour of the types of words you can include on your list of fifteen words:

Doing words: These are practical words that describe what your business does. Say you’re an estate agent. You’d use the words ‘estate agent,’ ‘valuer,’ ‘seller,’ and ‘auctioneer’ to describe what you do. You may think it’s obvious what you do but it won’t always be obvious to your customers, so don’t overlook these words.

Value words: These words describe your business values, the principles that drive your business and that shape the service you offer customers. Weaving words like integrity, customer care, creativity or time into your content tells customers what values are important to you as a business. If they share those values, they’ll see you as a business they can trust.

Senses Words: With these words, you’re stimulating people’s senses. You describe what your products or services look, smell, taste, sound and feel like, so people feel almost as if they’re holding your products or are there at your place of business. You can use these words even if you don’t sell a product, by choosing a symbol that describes your services and using words that link with the symbol.

When you’ve drawn up your list of fifteen words, you sprinkle them through your content. These words convey the message and mission of your business and show customers what your business can do for them. Customers will associate these words with your business, and if you use words they like, it’ll influence their decision to buy. 

If you’d like some help finding your best words, I’ll be happy to chat to you. You can drop me an email on derbhile@writewordseditorial.ie or call/message me on 0876959799.

How to Create Memorable Product Descriptions In Your Content

In the glory days before the pandemic, people could walk into your shop or restaurant and sample your goods. They could pick them up, smell them, taste them. If you have a service, people were able to meet you at networking events and go to your presentations. Now we have to do it all online, and that’s why it’s more important than ever to describe your products in a way that speaks to your customers. That’s how you create memorable content.

What you want to do is create a sort of 3D effect with the words you use. You describe your products in a way that makes customers feel almost as if they were picking them up, smelling and tasting them. And you describe your products as if you were sitting across the table from your customers, having a good chat over a cup of coffee.

When authors are describing things, they use vivid language that draws on all of the senses, e not just sight. They use language to describe the worlds they create, so you can lose yourself in it as a reader and feel as if you were in that world yourself. When I deliver my content creation course, I share a technique I call Setting and the Senses, which aims to help people improve their descriptive skills.

Setting and The Senses

The setting in a book is the world where a story happens. For your business, it’s your place of business. Some people are lucky enough to have businesses that are set in beautiful locations. You can certainly put up lovely images of your restaurant, hotel or tourist attraction, but vividly descriptive words will enhance those images and help people feel they’re taking a tour of your world.

This is a forest carpeted with grass, and sun shines through the tall trees. If this is your place of business, you can describe it vividly using all five of your senses. Photo Credit: Anna Healy.

You can describe what people will see when they come to your place of business, but also share the sounds they will hear, the tastes and smell they will experience. With your descriptions, you can help people feel as if they were actually in the forest where you offer forest bathing, or eating a meal in your scenic sea-view restaurant.

Sensual Product Descriptions

If you sell beautiful products like jewellery or food, you can have fun describing these products using all five of your senses. You can describe what your product looks and feels like, but also the sounds, smells and tastes people might associate with your products. For example, your financial products might give people the same feeling of warmth and security they get when they sit by the fire on a winter evening, feeling the heat, smelling the wood and watching the flames leap.

You might say, ‘But I’m producing jewellery. How could I compare it to a food?’ You may not be able to make a direct comparison, but you could write about food your jewellery might make people think of, or imagine what sort of meal people might be eating while they wear your jewellery.

You can also take this approach with a service business that doesn’t have a tangible product. You can create a symbol for your business, an image that customers can see in your mind when they think of your business. When you’re writing your content,

You can then use words that tie in with that reinforcing the image in your customer’s mind. For a coach, that symbol might be a candle, its light guiding people through the darkness of confusion, towards clarity of thought and a life filled with light. And you might use phrases like ‘seeing clearly’ ‘guiding light’ and ‘beating the darkness.’

Describing your products in this playful way can be a lot of fun, and it will bring your products to life for your customers. If you’d like to learn how to tell riveting stories about your products, please get in touch. You’ll find all my details on my nifty digital business card, email, phone, website etc. Click on the link to view  my card.

Announcing the WriteWords Online Children’s Writing Course

Every summer, I run a creative writing course for children. And I don’t see why this summer should be any different. Last week, I told you about my online writing courses for adults. Now, I’m going to do an the same for children. I’m going to run an online children’s writing course for children aged between seven and ten.

Inspiration for Writing Course

It was actually two boys I know who inspired me to take my writing courses online. Their mother asked me to give them some writing classes over WhatsApp during the height of lockdown, and they went really well. At first, it was strange speaking into a screen, but the boys took it in their stride, and given that I wasn’t in the room with them, they concentrated really well.

I’m going to run five one-hour sessions. The first four sessions will each cover a different creative writing skill. The final day will be a feast for the senses, as we let ourselves be inspired by what we hear, what we see and what we taste. The sessions will be highly interactive, with lots of laughter and chat, and they will feel like real-world writing classes.

What Will Happen During the Camp

On the first day, we’ll concentrate on language. The children will make up their own words, play with the alphabet and write about summer without using the word summer. The second day will be all about creating characters, both real and imagined.

On the third day, the children will create worlds. This is always a popular session. They create their own countries, name them and draw a map of them. They’ll also travel back in time, to imagine what their house might have looked like in the 1920s. This class will teach them about the value of setting, the place and time in which a story takes place.

Photo illustrates that the online children’s writing course will be just as enriching as a real-world course

Children writing at a big table during one of my previous writing courses. The walls behind them are white and there are paintings on them.

The fourth day is all about what happens in stories: in other words, the plot. The children will devise their own newspaper, filled with exciting stories. On the final day, as the children explore their senses, they’ll create their own disgusting recipes and list and make their favourite sounds.

If I’ve managed to whet your appetite, my online children’s writing course will run from 13-17 July, from 10-11am each day. The price of the camp will be €40 per child, with concessions for two children or more.

If you’d like to book a place for your child, call me on 087 6959799 or email derbhile@writewordseditorial.ie.

Can Books Be Introverted?

Have you ever read a book where all the ingredients are in place, but the story fails to ignite? I’m sure the experience will be familiar to many of you. I experienced it recently with a book that came highly commended from many quarters. But rather than simply shrug it off as a dull reading experience, I fell to pondering on what qualities had made the book dull for me.

And I concluded that the book was too introverted for me.

I once heard the acclaimed author Mary Costello talk about writing in an introverted style. She is an introvert herself, and considers loneliness to be a natural state for her human being. This leaked into her writing, into the small, delicate stories she creates.

MaryCostello
Mary Costello: an introverted writer.

I’ve written before about that special quality I call “the crackle,” an extra ingredient of passion or excitement that makes a book to life. Now I think of it, the crackle is a quality associated with extroversion: noisy stories that aren’t afraid to put themselves out there.

You could argue that it’s the writer who’s introverted, not the stories. But I do think some stories give you the chance to experience the world from the viewpoint of an introvert, with inspiration drawn from within.

Here’s my take on what makes a story introvert or extrovert?

Characters

Extroverted stories tend to have a large cast of characters who talk a lot, so there’s lots of dialogue. Extroverts like a crowd, so there always plenty of colourful types to get to know when you’re reading the stories. Introverted stories will only have one or two central characters, and there’s less dialogue. Instead, you’re more likely to get an insight into their thoughts.

Theme

Even when a story deals with the everyday, that can be a microcosm of bigger themes. But an extrovert writer is more likely to sweep you up in an epic tale that tackles themes like love and death on a grand scale, with lots of battles and passionate clinches. In an introverted story, the action could be concentrated on one room, with the theme gradually revealed through the character’s actions and inner dialogue.

Language

Extrovert writers are more likely to write with bold brush strokes, because they want their words to be noticed. Introvert writers use more delicate strokes to paint subtle portraits. Just as introverts in real life like to think things out, you’ll have to work a little harder to figure out what the author is trying to say. This

Do you think stories can have introvert or extrovert qualities? Can you think of examples?