Some examples of tone words include "callous," "disdainful," "gloomy," "matter-of-fact" and "patronizing." Tone words provide information about an author's attitude towards the events of a story or the subject of a composition. Tone words fall loosely into the categories of positive, neutral and negative. Specific word choices give clues to the exact tone of a work.
Obvious positive tone words, such as "approving," "cheerful" and "comic," give the impression that an author has a positive, cheery attitude toward a subject, while less obvious choices, such as "introspective," "poignant" and "sentimental," create a different type of positive tone that centers on internal emotions. The words "objective," "meditative" and "understated" imply a neutral tone in which the author does not choose to share her views or has not formed views yet. "Apathetic," "diabolic" and "grave" portray a negative tone. As a writer, it is useful to select a tone word or a group of tone words to name the mood of a piece before starting the writing process to keep a work consistent in tone.
In addition to the general tone of a work of writing, each character often has a tone. Using tone words to describe characters and settings helps set the overall mood of a story or scene. Directly stating that a character is cynical or a setting is fanciful provides the reader with useful information to better interpret a story.