The stylecheck FAQ

  1. What is the purpose of the stylecheck?

The aim behind the stylecheck is to guide writers in ways to incorporate the ‘show don’t tell principle’ in their writing.


  1. How does it do this?

The stylecheck compares action with description in existing writing across all genres.


  1. Do I get anything else?

Yes, you get a writing checklist and a list of suggestions on what to look for in your writing that don’t come up in the report specific to your submission.


  1. Why should I use the stylecheck?

You get immediate feedback on your writing. At an average length of 1000 words this feedback is comprehensive.


  1. What would I get from using the stylecheck?

You get insights into your own writing style and alerted to possible pitfalls to look out for when you are writing.


  1. How can a computer know what good writing is?

The stylecheck is a computer programme based on analysis of a large amount of creative writing across all genres. The analysis compares the amount of description to action and is able to predict certain trends in your writing as a consequence.


  1. What does the stylecheck do?

By analysing existing writing it is possible to extrapolate how the submitted writing is working and to see pitfalls the writer might fall into. This is useful for a writer if they want to become proficient creative writers.


  1. How often should I use the stylecheck?

All the time. It is good to know if a piece of writing is working or not. It will also indicate to a writer which published piece of work their writing compares to. The writer can then decide if there is a genre match.


  1. Do staff members at The Story Mint use the stylecheck?

Yes. All the time.


  1. How do I use the stylecheck?

You cut and paste your piece of writing into the window and submit. Within seconds you get a report back. You can submit as many pieces of writing as you want.


  1. Is this about pigeon-holing creative writers?

No, not at all. It is a guide to showing a writer how well they are writing and how much action or description is in the writing. The stylecheck cannot analyse content so makes no comment on that. The writer still needs to make sure that what they have written makes sense.


  1. What happens if my work doesn’t land within the grid?

When this happens the writer receives a report to say why and is offered solutions.


  1. Is it possible for a writer’s work to be good even though it has landed outside of the grid?

Anything is possible. However, we have found that writing clusters in areas on the grid according to their genre and this is a consistent pattern. We have also found that writing that falls outside the grid does tend to need more work.


  1. What happens if my submission lands outside of the grid?

Writing will land outside the cluster of writers if:

  1. There are a number of passive sentence structures
  2. The writing is melancholic, tired
  3. The writing is inward looking and flat
  4. There is a lot of padding (read waffle) that needs to be edited out (I deleted 1,000 words from a 4,500-word story)
  5. It needs to focus on adding more description
  6. It needs to have characters acting and moving about
  7. It needs to have more action described
  8. It needs to limit the use of internal monologue
  9. It has too much telling and not enough showing


  1. What can I do about that?

There are several solutions and these all require work.

  1. Re-write and re-draft
  2. Edit out extra material and get to the core of the story
  3. Take out passive words and passive sentences
  4. Focus on lifting the energy of your work by creating active sentences
  5. Read and re-read and be ruthless
  6. You may find that some of your story fits into the grid and then other parts go off. Look closely at those that go off and see how essential they are to the story.


  1. What if I’ve created a new writing style?

If you took a helicopter view of the grid and where you are placed in relation to it you’d find that you are alone. There is a good reason for that. People do not want to read books that are written in the style you have adopted. This is generally because the writing lacks energy. The key is to inject energy into the writing using active words, highly descriptive phrases and by having characters fill the page with their personalities and activities.


  1. I put in gobblygook and my work landed in the middle of the grid. What does that mean?

It means two things. First, it means that the stylecheck does not analyse the meaning of words. The stylecheck analyses the way the words are put together in a sentence. That is why the report you get back tells you of other possible problems that might exist within your writing and advises you to look for these. The stylecheck is androgynous-neither man nor woman. The stylecheck is a tool. Second, if you put in gobbledygook you misunderstood the stylecheck's purpose. That is, that it is a tool to assist you to become a better writer. It is not going to correct nonsense.
(PS. A note from the creator of the stylecheck. If you are serious about becoming a competent writer you would not be putting nonsense into it. You would be looking for ways it can help you to become a better craftsperson. That is why it was developed….)