Monday, July 9, 2012

The Emotion Thesaurus - An Awesome Writing Resource

If you've ever been working on a story, and wanted a more original way to show (rather than tell) your character's emotions, The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide toCharacter Expression by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi is the book for you! It's full of gestures and physical, mental and internal cues that give the reader an idea of what your character is going through. The book covers 75 emotions, from Amusement to Worry.

Here are a few of the cues listed under "curiosity":

  • Repeating a statement as a question
  • Leaning in, sliding a chair closer
  • A small, delighted smile
  • A shift from mediocre conversation to pointed questions

Not only that, but their blog, theBookshelf Muse has a (FREE) Thesaurus for Weather and Earthly Pnenomena, Colors, Textures and Shapes, Character Traits and Settings and even Symbolsim. These should probably be books in their own right! Scroll down their page on the right side the Thesaurus links.

You'll find entries like:

  • Drought
  • Prejudice
  • Elevator
  • Pride
  • Gritty

Here's a partial sample of the entries for "Hurricane/Typhoon

Touch:  the house shivering and trembling as winds buffet it, rain pelting and pouring through holes in the roof or broken windows, steadily warming air as the power and a/c go off

(There are entries for other senses such as sight and smell.)

and then a section on:

Mood: There's nothing quite like being enclosed in a boarded-up house that's being pummeled by 100mph winds. This situation quickly becomes claustrophobic, especially in the heat of summer when the power goes out. Hurricanes create an atmosphere of fear and worry as people sit in the dark and wonder how bad it's going to get. The mood becomes very tense and oppressive very quickly.

The authors also cover symbolism, possible cliches, and other notes to consider in using that weather phenomena (or character trait, setting, etc) in your writing.

Be sure to check the Emotion Thesaurus, you might:

  • Do a victory dance
  • Give a slow smile
  • Hug yourself
  • Look over your manuscript and make it better!


  1. Thank you so much for taking the time to review The Emotion Thesaurus (and the other resources at The Bookshelf Muse). Our hope in creating this book was to help writers better convey their characters' emotions. Hopefully we've achieved that. Thanks again!

    1. Happy to, Becca! The more writers who know about your the fewer of us will be bald. :) Fantastic work, both of you.