Words on Wednesday: The Emotion Thesaurus


Every good writer tries to “show not tell” character emotions. But even experienced authors may be limited in their familiarity with certain feelings. Extreme emotions such as anguish, desperation, paranoia, rage, and full-out terror may–thankfully–exist only in our fictional worlds.

Enter the helpful duo of Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. The pair have written several volumes of a thesaurus series, including a 5-star guide to character emotions as expressed through body language cues, thoughts, and visceral responses.

The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression

Emotion ThesaurusThe Ackerman/Puglisi volume on Emotions is an incredibly useful tool for writers. With 75 named emotional states and all the external “indicators” for those states, it can be your go-to reference for creating believable characters under stress. It can also be a powerful brainstorming engine for plotting. For these reasons alone, it’s worth the price (currently ON SALE for $4.99/Kindle).

But the book’s authors also have an Introduction that includes sharp, intelligent discussions of show-don’t-tell (with examples); a section on clichéd emotions and melodrama; how to avoid overusing dialogue or thoughts; misuses of backstory; even ways to utilize setting.

In other words, it’s a powerhouse reference book that should be on every writer’s shelf.

“One of the challenges a fiction writer faces, especially when prolific, is coming up with fresh ways to describe emotions. This handy compendium fills that need. It is both a reference and a brainstorming tool, and one of the resources I’ll be turning to most often as I write my own books.”

~ James Scott Bell,bestselling author ofDeceived and Plot & Structure

Emotion Amplifiers: A Companion to The Emotion Thesaurus

Emotion AmplifiersCurrently being offered FREE, this short, 72-page companion book explores 15 common states that “naturally galvanize emotion. States like exhaustion, boredom, illness, pain, and extreme hunger can push characters to the limit, compromising their decision-making abilities and decreasing the likelihood of them reaching their goals.”

Emotion Amplifiers will help you brainstorm the situations that most effectively “tighten the screws… and amp up the tension” in your stories.

I heartily recommend both of these volumes.

P.S. The authors have a fabulous website, Writers Helping Writers, where they host contests, offer writing advice… and are currently posting chapters of their forthcoming book on Emotional Wounds (think things like finding out your father is a criminal, being abused as a child, etc.)– good stuff!

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About Donna Maloy

History, Mystery... and sometimes a touch of Fantasy. Historical adventures for Teens, Tweens and Young Adults.
This entry was posted in Character, Character arcs, Character-driven action, Characters, Conflict, Emotion Thesaurus, Interaction with Setting, Interior life; interiority, Motivation, Resources, Story Elements, Story ideas, Tips for Teen Writers, Writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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