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

4.46  ·  Rating Details ·  2,850 Ratings  ·  399 Reviews
One of the biggest problem areas for writers is conveying a character's emotions to the reader in a unique, compelling way. This bookcomes 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 int
Paperback, 170 pages
Published May 2012 by JADD Publishing (first published April 21st 2012)
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Alicia O'Carrick
Mar 13, 2016 Alicia O'Carrick rated it it was amazing

This book is pretty handy-dandy.

Every year at Christmas, my mom’s side of the family draws a name and then they have to buy that person a gift(s). This year, my cousin Chloe drew my name, and she got me the best present ever: this little book.

It’s so helpful. It describes different things a person does, mentally, externally, and internally when they’re feeling a specific emotion. The best part was, I could actually picture my characters playing these out while I was reading them off, which wa
Jan 12, 2014 jerica rated it it was ok
This is a reference book, for the times you need to look up--not synonyms but descriptions, ways you can write to show your character's emotions. Pretty fancy, huh. Each entry (emotion) has several descriptions that are divided into Physical Signals, Internal Sensations, Mental Responses, Cues of Acute (Insert Emotion Here) and Cues of Suppressed (Insert Emotion Here).

If you are: an observant person and/or reader (and have been reading for pleasure since you were a child), have taken a beginner'
Jan 12, 2014 Danni rated it it was amazing
This book is a real gem. I'm often reluctant to read books about writing techniques because I feel that trying too hard to 'stick to the rules' sucks a lot of the fun out of writing, and can leave me creatively paralysed for fear of 'getting it wrong.' Not so this book. If you ever find it hard to think of ways to describe your characters' emotions without falling back on the same old cliches (and let's face it, who doesn't?), then this book will give you a great nudge in the right direction. I ...more
Juli Morgan
Jan 12, 2014 Juli Morgan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing
When I sit down at my computer to write I do three things before starting: I close my office door, I crank up some rock 'n roll, and I make sure The Emotion Thesaurus is open on my Kindle reader app on my desktop.

Every writer can learn something from this excellent resource. Look up the emotion your character is experiencing and you'll find physical signals, internal sensations, mental responses, cues of acute or long-term effects of said emotion, cues of suppressed emotion, a list of other emo
I read "The Emotion Thesaurus" shortly after reading "The Negative Trait Thesaurus," and now quite many details and notations made in the latter work make sense. This is another valuable title to have in a writing library, because it examines how emotions are not only shown in a narrative, but also how they function and how to make the most of them in your writing. Again, Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi did a phenomenal job with the research and expansion on character emotions, actions, and ...more
K.M. Weiland
I have long used the authors' fabulous blog The Bookshelf Muse ([...]) as a go-to source for on-the-spot inspiration whenever I need a unique synonym. When I heard they were compiling their wisdom into a book, I was thrilled! This is a one-of-a-kind resource for the writer. Offering synonyms (and more) for emotions of every stripe - as well as some sound writing advice throughout - this is just the sort of tome to have sitting within reach of the keyboard. A quick flip through the pages is sure ...more
S.A. Larsen
Jan 12, 2014 S.A. Larsen rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Writers of all genres, high school and college students
The Emotional Thesaurus is a fantastic writer's handbook, and must have as a reference while writing to help bring clarity yet interest to one's writing.

Angela and Becca have created a functional tool to enhance an author's writing and storytelling choices. The book is written in an easy-to-read-and-follow format, which is great for any writer, even high school and college students.

I especially liked the breakdown of words into Verbal and Nonverbal Communication, Physical Signals, Mental Respons
Stina Lindenblatt
Mar 31, 2012 Stina Lindenblatt rated it it was amazing
I had a chance to beta read this book and it is BRILLIANT!!!! If you love the blog, you're going to love the book even more. Angela and Becca have added more emotions (there's over 70 listed) and more categories within each emotion. This is a must have for all writers.
Seeley James
May 21, 2013 Seeley James rated it it was amazing
I've been using this book since it came out. Not because I don't know these things already, but because, like all writers, I tend to use the same phrases over and over. This book fires the imagination, freshens your phrasing, and can even change the direction of a scene (Wait a minute, she wasn't unhappy, she was desperate -> she curled her hands around her head and twisted back and forth, saying, "please, please, don't leave me here...".)

If you've stared at the page and realized this was the
Ksenia Anske
Mar 07, 2015 Ksenia Anske rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
If you're not a native speaker writing in English like me (I'm from Russia), this book is a gem. I struggle with defining emotion because mostly those words are concepts, harder to grasp than objects or colors or places or such. This book is sitting on my desk so I can consult it like an emotional map, opening it up alphabetically on Anger or Terror, and scanning through a list of typical physical signals, internal sensations, mental responses, and some marvelous tips, like searching the whole ...more
Jo-Ann Carson
Jan 12, 2014 Jo-Ann Carson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
While realtors hail, “Location, location, location;” writers shout, “emotion, emotion, emotion.”
You can never get enough on the page. Good stories are filled with emotion. But writing it isn’t easy.
The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression written and published by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi is an amazing resource for writers looking for the perfect word or phrase to capture a feeling.
Here’s what it’s done for me:
My before:
I relied on a small stable of words and expre
Jan 12, 2014 Rodrigo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing
As a newbie/wanna be writer, I'm always looking for tools to help me improve. Writing good stories take study, practice and motivation.

The Emotion Thesaurus is a very good tool to help anyway who wants to write. The book is divided in 2 parts. The first part, the author explains motivations, story flow and how to keep things going. It is a very interesting tutorial and, to me, the best part of the book.

The second part is the thesaurus itself. For every emotion, you will see a definition, physica
Catrina Barton
Jan 12, 2014 Catrina Barton rated it it was amazing
I can tell you I already love this book. After seeing the example in their newsletter {which I strongly recommend writers sign up for} I'm on pins and needles waiting for the release day. I go to their site and use the thesaurus on a daily basis. This little treasure trove is a must have for all writers.
Apr 29, 2012 Jena marked it as to-read
I . AM . SO EXCITED! If you're a writer, and you haven't checked out the blog called The Bookshelf Muse, do so at your earliest convenience. It contains some of the most unique and useful collections of resources for writers I've ever found on the internet! This book springs from that blog, and for me, it's a must-read!
Melanie Stanford
Jul 27, 2016 Melanie Stanford rated it it was amazing
So I haven't actually read this cover to cover. But after getting it from the library and skimming through, I realized this was a book I had to have on my shelf for future reference. I'm placing an order for it now. Excellent writing tool.
Nicole Dunlap
Jan 12, 2014 Nicole Dunlap rated it it was amazing
The best book I've ever read on emotions and a lot of key rules that I will be using. All I can say is thanks!!!!
Cathy  Keaton
You can also read this review on my blog:

When I first learned about The Emotion Thesaurus I was intrigued. Was this like a regular thesaurus, but for emotions? Would I be able to look up any type of human emotion and find varying ways to portray it through prose that would help me avoid being redundant and stale? The answer to these questions is a definite YES.

What a brilliant idea it was to create this amazing resource for fiction writers! The authors of
Paul R. Drewfs
Jan 12, 2014 Paul R. Drewfs rated it it was amazing
Picture me dancing with abandon around the late night campfire like a Johnny on the spot gold rich prospector. Yessiree, life’s been pretty damned good up to now, but it just went antimatter fueled supernovae. How so; my copy of the Emotion Thesaurus; a Writers Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi came by big brown is beautiful truck. Fearing the tome fool’s gold, I leapt right into her and took her out for a test drive: leaving my socks and shoes smoking on the ...more
Pam (E.P. Scott)
Aug 15, 2013 Pam (E.P. Scott) rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing, 5-star-reads
This is one of those books that a writer should have beside them as a quick reference in order to 'switch up' the common words and phrases for emotion.

The thesaurus has a section for the most common emotions, anger, desire, doubt, fear etc with a definition of the emotion at the beginning and then, within each section there is a subsection for physical signs, internal sensations, mental reactions, short/long term effects, and what it may escalate to.

There are writers tips throughout the thesau
Danny Tyran
Jan 12, 2014 Danny Tyran rated it really liked it
Useful reference book when the right words to describe an emotion don't jump to your mind. There are many pages on emotions with ideas about how to describe them. This can be a catalyst to stimulate your own creativity when words fail you. But this book is no substitute for your own sense of observation.
Steena Holmes
Mar 28, 2012 Steena Holmes rated it it was amazing
If you are a writer/author - you NEED this book.
Jan 12, 2014 VaultOfBooks rated it really liked it
By Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. Grade A
“All successful novels, no matter what genre, have one thing in common: emotion. It lies at the core of every character’s decision, action, and word, all of which drive the story. Without emotion, a character’s personal journey is pointless.”
This is the note with which Ms. Ackerman and Ms. Puglisi start the book. And I am sure that none of us would deny this fact.
One of the biggest problem areas for writers is conveying a character’s emotions to the r
Stuart Aken
Jan 12, 2014 Stuart Aken rated it really liked it
I promised my wonderful and long-suffering wife that I wouldn’t buy any more book until I’d read everything on our shelves. Now, here I am buying a new thesaurus after reading only 31 of the original 188 titles awaiting my attention. Why? Well a friend (she’s a friend, and she made me break a promise to my wife?) passed on a review of this book. I’m afraid I can’t now find the link to that review, but thanks to whoever it was! It was the review that persuaded me to bend my knee and ask my lovely ...more
Jan 12, 2014 Karen rated it it was amazing
I’ve long been a fan of Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi’s blog, The Bookshelf Muse, as it offers great tools and resources for writers. When they announced that they were compiling their info and writing a book, countless other writers and I were thrilled.

Angela and Becca believe that emotions are the core of good characters. “Without emotion,” they say, “a character’s personal journey is pointless.” This is true, but how do we translate that emotion into print to provide a rich and satisfyin
Sharon Lippincott
Jan 12, 2014 Sharon Lippincott rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing-tips
Every author should have this book near at hand. You probably know that readers relate most strongly to stories with lots of emotional expression, but you may not know how to do this beyond occasional statements like "She had never felt so angry." The Emotion Thesaurus will give you the tools you need to embed emotion into dialogue and nonverbal expressions like facial expression, behavior, and movement. You'll learn about likely mental responses or self-talk, and typical internal sensations.

Mar 03, 2016 Nicola rated it liked it
This is such a useful little book. You definitely need to accept it for what it is -- a bit of a cheat; something to use in a pinch -- but it's nonetheless a pretty invaluable tool for writers.

I'll admit that, when I first heard about The Emotion Thesaurus, I reacted against the idea of a reference book full of 'beats' of action (he bit his lip! he ripped at his hair!). But... but... your beats should come organically! you should know your characters so well that their actions come to you automa
Brooke Hargett
Jan 12, 2014 Brooke Hargett rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing-books
I cannot say enough about how much I love this book!! I saw some people suggest it online and after finding out what it was- I ordered it right away. It is a FANTASTIC writing resource!

When writing, sometimes its hard to come up with new ways of describing feelings or situations so Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi came up with this amazing book. You identify the "root emotion" that you are trying to describe, and then they have a list of the following things for each root emotion: physical sig
Sue Coletta
Dec 19, 2014 Sue Coletta rated it it was amazing
Every writer needs the Emotional Thesaurus in their toolbox. The more books you write the harder it gets to not use the same emotional ques, and this book helps you think about the physical as well as internal that make great fiction more believable. This book is not meant to give you the answers but to show you different ways emotion is expressed through body language and thoughts. It teaches you to gradually let the emotion take over your character rather than to go from zero to one hundred in ...more
Ava Jae
Oct 22, 2016 Ava Jae rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing
I tweeted a while back that The Emotion Thesaurus is perpetually open in my Nook app while revising, and I wasn’t exaggerating. Whenever I reach a moment where I’m struggling to describe an emotion, or I get a CP note asking for more emotion from a character, I open up The Emotion Thesaurus.

It’s not a book that you necessarily read from cover to cover (although you’re more than welcome to), it’s a resource that you open when trying to describe a particular (or several) emotions. What I love abou
Jul 18, 2013 Alicia rated it really liked it
The Emotion Thesaurus contains some opening material about characterization, showing versus telling, and using this thesaurus as inspiration and applying it naturally to characters and their surroundings. This opening material is nothing particularly new or ground-breaking, but I see how it's necessary--sort of a why-you-need-this-book combined with a disclaimer.

The bulk of of the text is made up of sections dedicated to many different emotions, where each section includes a list of ways to disp
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Excellent resource 9 24 Jan 14, 2015 01:38PM  
Can't wait 10 34 Aug 18, 2012 01:22AM  
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ANGELA ACKERMAN is a writing coach, international speaker, and co-author of five bestselling books for writers, including The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world.

Angela is also the co-founder of the popular site Wr
More about Angela Ackerman...

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“To avoid melodrama, recognize that emotions run along a continuum, from mild to extreme. For each situation, know where your character is along that continuum and choose appropriate descriptors.” 2 likes
“Because above all else, readers pick up a book to have an emotional experience. They read to connect with characters who provide entertainment and whose trials may add meaning to their own life journeys. As” 1 likes
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