The Emotion Thesaurus

The emotion Thesarus A few months ago, I bought this nifty little book on Amazon.  And I love it.

The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Gide to Character Expression.  

It’s brilliant.

Each page in is dedicated to a particular emotion, for instance, fear, humiliation, regret, curiosity, anticipation, etc.

Under each emotion, there is a definition, followed by a list of physical signs.  Each page looks a bit like this:


DEFINITION: to be afraid of; to expect threat or danger


Face turning ashen, white, pallid

Hair lifting on the nape and arms

Body odor, cold sweats

Clammy hands

All the way down to things like:

Tight shoulders

A shrill voice

Shaking uncontrollably

Next there’s a list of Internal Sensations, featuring responses such as

An inability to speak

Heartbeat racing, nearly exploding

Holding one’s breath, gulping down breaths to stay quiet

Followed by mental responses (wanting to flee or hide) and cues of having the emotion acute or long-term (insomnia, depression, exhaustion), cues of the emotion being suppressed (keeping silent, attempting to keep one’s voice light), and other emotions that may follow, along with the page number, such as ANGER (22), TERROR (154), etc.

It’s sooooo helpful when you find your characters doing nothing but smiling, sighing, and frowning.

Want to show excitement?  Try a wide grin, bouncing from foot to foot, squealing, or getting the giggles.

How about anguish? Experiment with Tugging one’s hair, checking and rechecking the time, rubbing the arms or legs, restless fingers, or rocking back and forth.

“This book comes to the rescue by highlighting 75 emotions and listing the possible body language cues, thoughts, and visceral responses for each… This writing tool encourages writers to show, not tell emotion and is a creative  brainstorming resource for any fiction project.”

Still not sure about it?  What if I told you it has an in-depth introduction (complete with examples) on how best to utilize emotion?  And that each page has a writer’s tip to refresh your memory on writing emotional scenes?

I not only keep this by me when I write, but I also pick it up for fun sometimes.  People watching me read it might think I’m crazy, however, because I tend to tap my foot, claw at my cheeks, lick my lips, and squeeze my eyes shut, trying each action as I read it.  And then I smile broadly, realizing how perfectly it fits the emotion.

Looking for some new action beats?  This is the book for you.

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