The Emotion Thesaurus



Product Details

172 pages, Paperback

Genre: Writing Book

Published on May 6, 2012 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

ISBN-10: 1475004958

ISBN-13: 978-1475004953


Book Description

One of the biggest problem areas for writers is conveying a character’s emotions to the reader in a unique, compelling way. This book comes to the rescue by highlighting 75 emotions and listing the possible body language cues, thoughts, and visceral responses for each.

Using its easy-to-navigate list format, readers can draw inspiration from character cues that range in intensity to match any emotional moment. The Emotion Thesaurus also tackles common emotion-related writing problems and provides methods to overcome them.

This writing tool encourages authors to show, not tell emotion and is a creative brainstorming resource for any fiction project.


My Review

This book is a lifesaver, and one writing book which I can’t live without.

I’m a big fan of the “show, don’t tell” tenet of writing. So in my own manuscripts, I try to make sure that in every scene I leave it up to the reader to understand the emotions the character is feeling. I don’t tell them what the character is feeling directly, instead, I try to show the emotions of the character through her actions, thoughts and sometimes through her dialogue.

Throughout the story, my characters will go through a range of emotions, and often will experience one emotion several times. I seriously wanted to shred my first draft after reading the phrase “her eyes widened” or “he swallowed hard” or “her hands shook” over and over again. I realized that I needed fresh, new ways of showing my characters’ emotions to replace the tired, old clichés I had used.

I squealed with delight (and relief) when I discovered this book online. The book begins with a short overview of emotion and its place in writing. The authors also introduce various techniques for writing nonverbal emotion, and explain how writers can use the Emotion Thesaurus.

The Emotion Thesaurus lists 75 different emotions. The authors define the emotion and list physical signals, internal sensations and mental responses a person might have to the emotion. They also list cues of acute or long-term encounters with the emotion and cues of suppressed experience of the emotion. To top it all off, they give a writer’s tip for using that particular emotion in your work.

Authors Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi have saved every fiction writer years of work and research by writing this book. They have saved us the trouble of having to figure out what body language, thoughts, and visceral responses our characters might have when experiencing a particular emotion.

I always keep this book handy whenever I’m deep in revisions. The Emotion Thesaurus helps me create three-dimensional, relatable characters by helping me deepen the way they express their emotions in scenes. By doing so, I also lift my prose up to a higher level.

With the Emotion Thesaurus’s help, I can replace boring lines like “she was so depressed she could barely stand and answer the phone” with stronger lines like “The circles under her eyes had grown darker. She stared out the window, ignoring the phone that had been ringing for the past half hour.”

I give this book 10 stars out of 5, and recommend all writers—new and seasoned alike–to pick up a copy. It’s sure to change the way you perceive emotions, and the elevate the way you write.


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24 Responses to “Writing Book Review: The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression”

  1. mooderino says:

    A very useful book from a couple of lovely gals.

  2. I still saving it for when I need to revise something, but I know it will be useful when I need it.

    Now, the challenge for me is to avoid overloading the text with reactions. That extreme can bog down the story and make the prose feel too melodramatic.

  3. tara tyler says:

    i love this book! and the muses are wonderful for creating this valuable resource!

  4. ML Swift says:

    One of my favorite resources, as well as the website, The Bookshelf Muse. I was thinking of highlighting this book during one of the Progressive Book Club craft book reviews.

    Thanks for this wrap-up!

  5. Hilary says:

    Hi Nutschell .. I’ve ordered this and it’s on its way .. when I’ve seen reviews – they said quality info .. so I’m getting it ..

    Looks like many others feel like you … have a good weekend – Hilary

  6. I own this one and it’s really helpful!

  7. Holy cow, what an amazing review! Seriously I am blown away. I am so happy to hear this book is so useful to you, Nutshell. Emotion is such a huge struggle to get write, and we are so happy this book of our is helping so many writers!

    Thanks again for the wonderful and kind review! :)


  8. Karen Lange says:

    Ten stars our of five, yes, I agree! This book is a wonderful resource! So glad Angela and Becca shared it with us. :)

  9. Haha, “Get write.” talk about a Freudian slip! :)

  10. 10 out of 5 stars. Wow! This sounds like a book I must get my hands on. I remember seeing it and I appreciate this review and the reminder to write it on my list. :) Thanks!

  11. I think that I had better invest in this one, Nut. Thanks for the heads up!

    Kathy M.

  12. I love this one too! One of my favorites. Great review, Nutschell. :)

  13. Thanks for the review! 10/5 stars? It must be impressive. :)

  14. Becca puglisi says:

    Well this was a nice surprise, seeing such an incredible review and wonderful comments about The Emotion Thesaurus. Angela and I are always so glad to see how this book is helping others in the same problem areas that we struggle with. Thanks so much for spreading the word!

  15. Jeriann Fisher says:

    I agree completely and it’s not for only revising! I find reading emotional cues very stimulating to my creativity. When I revise, I realize how frequently my characters inhale, or hold their breath, or sigh, or hyperventilate. Well, you all get the picture. The Emotion Thesaurus is a life saver!

  16. unikorna says:

    If the writer determined you to keep the book in handy all the time, I am sure it’s a great book. I hope I shall run into it sometime.

  17. Laura Eno says:

    I just got this book and am anxious to start utilizing it. :)

  18. Nick Wilford says:

    I’ve heard loads about this book. I think I’ll have to get hold of it, especially after you broke down how it works in your great review. Thanks!

  19. Brinda says:

    Bought it two weeks ago…

    It was about time I did!

  20. Tonja says:

    Thanks! Very helpful review.

  21. Wow — high praise! Sounds like a VERY helpful resource indeed.

  22. Nas says:

    Sounds like such a resourceful and useful book to have. Thansk for posting about it.

  23. PA Smith says:

    Hi Nutschell,

    Your review has driven me to purchase this. Thanks for sharing your review.

  24. Just added this to my Amazon wish list. Thank you!

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