Neutral tone words can give your readers time to form their own opinions about your characters; use these terms to write descriptively without swaying the opinion of your reader.
Sometimes, you don’t want to give too much of your story away too soon, and using words that set a neutral tone can allow your readers to keep an open mind without attaching emotion to characters or situations. Using these neutral terms (instead of more emotionally charged options) can help you introduce your storyline while allowing your readers to make their own decisions about the feel of your book, poem, or other work.
What Are Neutral Tone Words?
Many words bring up immediate emotions. It’s hard to hear words like showstopping, infuriating, or agonizing without assuming an emotional connotation. Using neutral tone words, you can set scenes that allow your readers to make up their minds rather than trying to convince them of how they should feel about your characters. This opens the door to deeper character development, where your readers can make their own judgment calls.
Everyday Neutral Terms
These neutral terms are perfect for everyday writing, whether you’re sending an email to catch up with a friend or working to create a compelling narrative that feels readable for a wide audience.
Olivia felt ambivalent about her options in her career, as she was curious about the new role she was offered at work, but she also loved her current position.
Brendan tried to get excited about watching the movie his best friend couldn’t wait to see, but he couldn’t help but feel apathetic.
Lily was baffled by her homework, no matter how many times she went over the notes she took in class.
“I’m so bored at home,” said Kelly, even though summer vacation only started two weeks prior.
The wedding was purely ceremonial, as they signed the papers to make it legal weeks prior.
Lily was callous when she told Jared that the company wouldn’t renew his contract the following year.
“I’ll be candid. I appreciate that you tried to get to know my family, but you really need to work on being a better house guest,” said Charlie.
She told her little sister a cautionary tale before she left for college.
The instructions for putting together the toy car track were complex,
“Following these instructions will help to ensure we’re compliant with industry-wide regulations,” said the corporate trainer at the start of the meeting.
The hockey team was composed as they took to the ice, presenting a sense of calm.
She stood with controlled nervousness as she lifted the bow to touch the strings.
“You don’t have to be so cynical about my goals,” responded Shelly to her grandfather.
Julie immediately became defensive when Brandon told her that her little sister lacked the talent to be a successful college athlete.
Paul felt detached from his family, as he couldn’t stop thinking about his next project at work, no matter how much he worked to stay present at home.
The mosaic was beautifully detailed, and the closer Otto looked at the tiles, the more amazed he was at the careful work the artist put into the public art piece.
June realized the importance of being direct with her students.
They stood in quiet disbelief as their mom told them they’d soon welcome a new sibling.
While she tried to pay attention to the lecture, she couldn’t help but feel disinterested about the topic.
“Don’t mind Missy’s moodiness; she can be dramatic,” said the teacher.
“You seem distant today,” Marjorie said to her daughter, “Did something happen at school that you’re nervous to talk to me about?”
He was an earnest employee, always working toward bettering the company.
She walked into the restaurant feeling expectant, excited, and ready to feign shock at the gathering of her loved ones for her birthday.
Gary went over the details of the police report as he wanted to be sure it was factual, detailed, and to the point.
Charles wasn’t sure how to behave at such a formal event, but as he slipped on his tuxedo jacket, he felt confident that he had the dress code figured out.
“You’re being too frivolous; it’s time to curb your spending,” Daphne told her roommate.
Reporters were always surprised at how humble Jackie was after she won yet another gold medal.
Calvin knew that the judge would remain impartial, but he was still nervous about whether the judge would consider his past legal issues.
Kylie couldn’t believe how impersonal Ryan was when he told her he wasn’t interested in a second date.
Ruth felt indifferent about taking the job, not feeling strongly pulled in either direction.
The report was comprehensive and informative, detailing how much money the school made from each item sold at the annual fundraising auction.
The booklet was instructive and made putting the furniture together easy.
The temper tantrums of a two-year-old can be intense, but they don’t last long.
The audience roared with loud applause as the basketball team jogged onto the court.
The meter maid was matter-of-fact as she wrote my parking ticket, unbothered by my explanation.
Around mile 10, Jennifer fell into a meditative state, knowing she’d have no problem completing the remaining 3.1 miles of her first half-marathon.
Taylor worked to remain objective as she listened to Robin’s complaints about work.
The patriotic singer donned a red, white, and blue outfit as she took the stage to sing the national anthem.
Penny was a persuasive child, always supporting her requests with arguments that made sense.
Jody was pleading with her instructor to let her turn her homework in late; it was the difference between passing and failing the class.
The space became aesthetically pleasing as soon as the new furniture arrived.
The restaurant was stuffy and pretentious, nothing like the fast-food joints they were used to.
“I’m questioning whether Seattle is the right fit for me,” said Rick to his mother.
Roland felt reflective as he kicked back and relaxed on the beach, thinking about his accomplishments in the past year.
“This is hard to say, but I’ve decided to resign from my position at the end of the year,” Michelle sadly said.
The look on Jack’s face was serious, and Pam knew that he wasn’t playing around.
Barb complimented Moira’s uptick in energy following her weight loss, and Moira smiled at how sincerely her friend spoke of her efforts.
The mood across the town was solemn and tense as residents waited for the current tropical storm to inevitably progress into a hurricane.
“It’s uncomfortable, but it could be worse,” said Lynn as she put on her life preserver before taking her place on the rowboat.
Chelsea remained undecided as far as where she was going to go to college in the fall.
It’s unusual for babies to drop their second nap so early, according to her pediatrician.
“Please make sure you ask for the package to be marked urgent at the post office,” said Lauren.
Neutral Terms for Sophisticated Prose
Looking to be descriptive without evoking emotion from your readers? These less-common words can help you get your point across while staying impartial. This technique can be especially useful toward the beginning of the character development process.
Sparkle was a sweet cat, but she was aloof; a mouse could run right by her, and she’d be too busy watching a piece of dust in the air to notice.
Stephanie felt apprehensive as she waited for the results of her blood test to come in.
In a conciliatory effort, Mrs. Queensly presented the runner-up of the spelling bee with a smaller trophy.
Her grandmother was a fan of all things conventional and didn’t like to move out of the box.
Veronica was shocked at how much colloquial language she had to learn after moving to a new region.
As she wrote her blog post, she worked on writing in a didactic manner, teaching others how they could make their way from an entry-level job to a C-suite position.
The puppy was excited yet docile and seemed to take extra care not to be too playful with babies and small children.
Young children are naturally inquisitive, always asking questions about the world around them.
Feeling introspective, Max took some time to meditate after arriving home.
Her voice had a lyrical quality, singsonging its way from one word to the next.
As she sat down with her journal, Lydia felt pensive, ready to reflect on the day and put her thoughts onto paper.
Jen took a pragmatic approach to planning meetings, but Susan always looked for the next thing to wow attendees.
The melody was reminiscent of her wedding song and brought back good memories.
It looked like an ordinary necklace, but to Olivia, it held the sentimental memories of the last time she got to see her grandmother.
The temperature outside was shocking; no one expected the fall chill to set in so quickly.
While setting up the blood drive, Carmen knew she’d need to provide straightforward directions on where donors should go.
Sam’s usual boisterous personality was subdued that day, as he wasn’t looking forward to the argument he knew he’d face as soon as he walked in the door at home.
She waltzed down the street to the beach in her swimsuit, unconcerned with the opinions of other vacationers.
The party was elegant yet understated, as Martha knew her sister would feel uncomfortable if they went all-out to celebrate the end of her medical career.
Looking for more? Discover our descriptive words list!