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The Emotional Wound Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Psychological Trauma

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Readers connect to characters with depth, ones who have experienced life’s ups and downs. To deliver key players that are both realistic and compelling, writers must know them intimately—not only who they are in the present story, but also what made them that way. Of all the formative experiences in a character’s past, none are more destructive than emotional wounds. The aftershocks of trauma can change who they are, alter what they believe, and sabotage their ability to achieve meaningful goals, all of which will affect the trajectory of your story.

Identifying the backstory wound is crucial to understanding how it will shape your character’s behavior, and The Emotional Wound Thesaurus can help. Inside, you’ll find:

• A database of traumatic situations common to the human experience
• An in-depth study on a wound’s impact, including the fears, lies, personality shifts, and dysfunctional behaviors that can arise from different painful events
• An extensive analysis of character arc and how the wound and any resulting unmet needs fit into it
• Techniques on how to show the past experience to readers in a way that is both engaging and revelatory while avoiding the pitfalls of info dumps and telling
• A showcase of popular characters and how their traumatic experiences reshaped them, leading to very specific story goals
• A Backstory Wound Profile tool that will enable you to document your characters’ negative past experiences and the aftereffects

Root your characters in reality by giving them an authentic wound that causes difficulties and prompts them to strive for inner growth to overcome it. With its easy-to-read format and over 100 entries packed with information, The Emotional Wound Thesaurus is a crash course in psychology for creating characters that feel incredibly real to readers.

325 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2017

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About the author

Angela Ackerman

22 books964 followers
ANGELA ACKERMAN is a writing coach, international speaker, and co-author of 11 bestselling books for writers, including The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression. Her books are available in 10 languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. Her home country is Canada.

Angela is also the co-founder of the popular site Writers Helping Writers®, as well as One Stop for Writers®, a portal to powerful tools and resources that help you think like a writing expert so you become a stronger storyteller. A strong believer in writers helping and supporting other writers, she tries to pay-it-forward however she is able to.


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Displaying 1 - 30 of 127 reviews
November 12, 2020
An instructive edition for writers on how to get one's writing the emotions up to shape. The approach is innovative (if jarring a bit): we got all the bells and whistles borrowed from regular psychology, remade to fit our current discussion about fantasctical characters.

We got a lot on emotional sensitivities, tying up the character history and development, tha arc for the good guys and the villains, past influences, jadedness, embedding fancy triggers and twists, denied emotions, acting out defensively.

There's even a lot of canned fomulas for setting the emotional journey our: ie., for instance, dysfunctional childhood can lead to marital issues in adults, growing up in a cult makes one be scared of one's kids being drawn into a cult, etc. Lots of these formulaically staged prompts in there (quite a lot of what one sees around in lit and, sadly, in RL, occasionally).

I say that emotional development of the characters is outlined in this one quite well.
Profile Image for Jennifer Lane.
Author 15 books1,414 followers
October 15, 2021
The Wounds That Shape and Strengthen Your Characters

As a psychologist, I work with individuals bravely striving to heal from emotional wounds. As an author, I hope to bring to life this authentic journey that I witness in the therapy room. Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi have provided a wonderful resource to translate the pain and trauma of the human experience into our fictional characters.

I sometimes grow frustrated when authors flub psychological concepts, but Angela and Becca nail it in this writer's guide. Their descriptions of disempowering beliefs such as "There's something wrong with me", personality changes that result from trauma, and positive coping practices remind me of effective trauma treatments like Cognitive Processing Therapy and Prolonged Exposure.

There are helpful examples of how to reveal wounds like being mugged or molested in an emotionally compelling way. Major props for mentioning one of my favorite movies, The Cutting Edge:

The audience sees a lot of clues as to what makes Kate tick, but the wounding event from her past is never overtly stated. It's hinted at mostly through her personality and actions; she's perfectionistic, extremely competitive, and impossible to get along with. These clues, combined with a meaningful scene with her father toward the story's end, give us a clear picture of her wound: growing up with a parent whose conditional love was based on her ability to perform.

Thank you for that insight into The Cutting Edge! I knew I loved the movie, mostly for its sizzling hate-to-love romance, but I now realize that Kate's character arc is what hooks me most of all. And that demonstrates the authors' point: layering emotional wounds into your characters makes readers relate to them and love them as if they are real-life friends and family.

There is an impressive breadth of wounds covered, and I challenge any writer to read this book and fail to find a relevant emotional wound. My own work-in-progress benefits from sections on discovering a sibling's abuse and growing up in foster care.

An excellent resource!
Profile Image for Neuravinci.
164 reviews14 followers
March 1, 2018
This book is phenomenal. Not only does it provide pages of different emotional wounds and their elements, but it gives you psychological feel to all of them. I noted a number of wounds that I was already building up in a character I'm writing about, but this book has helped me think more deeply about the emotional trauma and the behavioral impacts it has.

Perfect reference guide, and will likely be one of my go-to books for every book I write, until I've memorized the pages by heart.

I can't recommend this book enough for writers, and even for anyone interested in understanding emotional trauma and behavior. It almost felt as if the authors had a therapist or psychologist working with them to develop the content.

I preferred this book to the other thesauruses by these authors, and if you decide to read only one of their thesauruses, this is the one to read.
Profile Image for Marcia Arguelles.
177 reviews3 followers
February 1, 2022
I think this is a great read for anyone who’s into writing and wants to write a complex wounded character but doesn’t know where to start. I found it very helpful and insightful for my own writing. It helps you step my step, giving examples and explanations. At the end it even gives you some working tools that you can use in order to come up with a backstory.
Profile Image for Stacia.
570 reviews8 followers
October 18, 2017
This book is an amazing resource for writers. The authors take a lot of time and care in defining emotional wounds, as well as explaining how this book is to be used. In short, it's not a book for diagnosis, and writers are cautioned to exercise self-care if any of entries are triggering.

Leafing through the pages, I immediately found specific ways in which I could strengthen characters in my WIP. Both protagonists and antagonists (as well as secondary characters) will benefit from the rich backstory provided by past psychological trauma. Or perhaps the trauma in your story takes place now - this thesaurus will help you explore the characters' fears and paths to recovery (if that's what you have in store for them). I highly recommend it for any writer of fiction.

I have a more complete review on my blog: http://www.staciarogan.com/blog/2017/...

(Note: I received an ARC of this book.)
Profile Image for Karen Sargent.
Author 4 books110 followers
October 19, 2017
The Emotional Wound Thesaurus gives writers a comprehensive understanding of the emotional web that entangles a wounded character. Understanding backstory, flaws, and needs allows us to develop multi-faceted characters with emotional depth as well as create an authentic sequence of actions and reactions as a character moves through our story. Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi continue to challenge us to elevate our craft by equipping us with a unique resource that makes a complex skill easier to master. I reviewed an advance electronic copy and cannot wait to get my hands on the print version to add to my collection of thesauruses from Angela and Becca.
Profile Image for Christa Allan.
Author 12 books191 followers
October 27, 2017
This latest thesaurus will join the others by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi as my absolute, can't do without, go-to writing resources. What separates this book from any others is not only the extensive list of wounds provided (childhood, betrays, injustice, traumatic, crime...), but the specific examples and detailed explanations. I also appreciate the flow charts that are included to help with working out how these wounds impact my characters.

An essential book for every writer's library.
Profile Image for Rayner Ye.
Author 41 books33 followers
October 16, 2020
This and the emotional thesaurus are both amazing books. I use the emotional thesaurus (written by the same author) several times per scene! What I do now, is dictate or type 'show gratitude/show anger/show terror/etc throughout the whole scene/chapter, then, during the second draft, I go through the beautiful and wonderful thesaurus (I have a couple more, written by different authors--though, for me, this writer's is best,) and pick various sentences for showing the emotion. I'm a keen one for motivation reaction units. Anyway, sorry, I'm supposed to be reviewing this book, not the Emotional Thesaurus (written by the same author.) This book is absolutely full of amazing psychological information. Oh my gosh! It's easy to get cognitive overload, though, so I'm taking it a bit at a time. I used it for my characters Lulu and Sonja who were both injured in terrorist attacks. It's just amazing for getting deeper into the psyche of characters.

It's a hard book if you are not used to analysing characters in this incredible depth, but, my gosh, it's a keeper, and like the emotional thesaurus, this is a book you'd need to keep coming back to. Absolutely incredible.
Profile Image for Donna Weaver.
Author 45 books442 followers
February 5, 2018
Another fabulous addition to this great writing resource series.
Profile Image for Roanne King.
Author 3 books10 followers
November 7, 2017
Because the fiction I write is based on my own past and overcoming emotional wounds, the discovery of The Emotional Wound Thesaurus was all the more important for me to learn to develop unique and layered female protagonists. Even though the conflict and themes of my current and future novels will somewhat reflect my own experiences, I also desire to write for and create relatable characters for women of all backgrounds.

I've heard the notion that parts of who we are as people are reflected in the characters we write. Often, our first novel represents ourselves in part or in whole more than any other. I see it as a form of therapy as we work out our own personalities and struggles in the safe space of a fictional world. However, eventually, I'd like to write characters that are not like me at all! Perhaps an alter ego, or a story inspired by something I see on the news or hear about from friends.

For my current fiction project, I’m writing from the POV of three sisters. Here are five ways I see The Emotional Wound Thesaurus can help writers create characters of depth – even when those characters are different from themselves or anyone else they know.

1. Forward and Intro Sections. Whether you think you know your characters or not, read the first 40 pages of this book! If you're not sure about your character's wounds yet, skim the table of contents and choose a few that seem to fit with your story concept. But then, go back and read the beginning chapters which offer exceptional insights on Self-Care for Writers (especially important if you'll be exploring wounds that are close to your own personal experiences), The Mirror of Fiction: a Reflection of Life and Our Deeper Selves, What is an Emotional Wound?, Character Arc: an Internal Shift to Embrace Change, and more. Even though I'd already used the online database of wounds to develop my characters, I still had several breakthroughs and "ah-ha" moments in understanding my fictional sisters and how to convey the various parts of their journey in my story.

2. Consider the PRIMARY Emotional Wound and choose two additional wounds. You may--as I did and especially if you're basing your main character after a part of your own life--begin to see overlapping characteristics related to multiple wounds. This will help you to discover the dominating negative and positive traits, triggers, fears and responses for your character. In turn, you'll be able to highlight these for fiction and the purpose of your story without overwhelming your reader with too many issues for your character to tackle. However, this process will help in knowing your character on a deeper level that should help in developing scenes, writing dialogue, or even choosing hobbies, family status, or a career path.

3. Multiple POVs. This is the first time I've attempted writing a novel with the point of view of three distinct women. Having access to The Emotional Wound Thesaurus has been a vital part in giving each woman a unique back story, personality, and voice despite the fact that they are sisters.

4. Add Your Own Elements. I'm certain this resource isn't intended to be an end-all-be-all, but more of a spring-board of potential. Though there are realistic and unrealistic manners in which someone will respond to an emotional wound, there are ways to modify these responses depending on your character. For example, say a character is still in the process of overcoming the wound of "Becoming a Caregiver at an Early Age". As a result, she's avoided becoming a parent herself. Instead, she has a dog to fulfill her need of caring for another being, but also sees it as "safer" than becoming a mom and she can practice being "overprotective" without rejection or push back. I came up with this detail on my own as it seemed to fit her personality.

5. Emotional Wounds are Directly Related to Positive and Negative Traits. Even if you don't analyze your characters or dive as deeply into their wounds as I have for mine, you'll find this resource helpful in creating rounded characters. This goes for your protagonist, supporting characters, and even the villain. On the most basic level, choose a wound and a few associated negative and positive traits and you've got yourself a unique character attempting to overcome the past while battling a conflict in the present.
Profile Image for T.L. Cooper.
Author 11 books45 followers
September 28, 2018
The Emotional Would Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Psychological Trauma by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi lists a number of events that cause emotional wounds and provides a list of how those wounds affect one's psychological well-being and place in society. Acherman and Puglisi give insight into how to write characters who have been through a variety of traumatic situations. It's a reference book that any writer could find handy from time to time. While much more research might be necessary depending on the plotline, The Emotional Would Thesaurus offers a great starting point by giving a snapshot of each emotional wound it discusses. The appendix includes some helpful worksheets. Because of the similarities of some of the effects of the emotional wounds discussed, I found it easier to internalize each wound by giving myself time to think between reading each one. The Emotional Wound Thesaurus will stay on my shelves as a handy reference for those times when I need to explore a character's emotional wound and feel a bit stuck.
195 reviews
April 22, 2018
Great resource for writers

This book provides so much more than just a list of traumas to throw at characters. As always, these authors are thoughtful and provide context and tips. There is also a nice blurb on self care at the beginning of the book.
Profile Image for Shannon O'Connor.
Author 50 books680 followers
September 6, 2021
I almost didn’t review this because what would I saw about something like this but then I realized, if you are a writer; GET THIS BOOK. I was so incredibly blocked, having ideas but unsure how to write them and no way of putting words to paper. I was recommended this book and in the past two days I’ve written almost 7k towards my project. I 100% suggest it.
Profile Image for Allison Collins.
Author 7 books49 followers
October 23, 2017
Every author wants readers to be pulled in to their books, to fall for their characters, to root for them to overcome obstacles and have their happy ever after. In order to do this, writers need to dig past the superficial to the baggage their characters carry around, to find out why they are the way they are, and what caused it. Hence, the creation of The Emotional Wound Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi.

The Emotional Wound Thesaurus is hands-down my new favorite writing resource. I know it will be the first book I go to every time I start a new manuscript.

Not only do I have a new resource for discovering the emotional wounds in my characters, I now have a much better understanding of some teachings by other writers. For instance, the “lie” and the “essence”, and the Fatal Flaw and how it ties in to your character’s conflict is another point that the authors have made clear to me. After reading the EWT, I actually understand how these work for characters, and what is driving them to their goals.

But this new reference book doesn’t just give you a laundry list of emotional wounds and traumas. Oh no, it goes way deeper. I highly recommend reading the first part of the book before you jump to what your wounding event could have been so that you gain a better understanding of how to put the information to the best use in your manuscripts. This book explains what an emotional wound or trauma is and how it can affect someone’s life either forever after, or until they recognize the behaviors and problems stemming from it and decide to make a change in themselves.
The authors of the EWT walk you through character arcs, brainstorming your character’s wound, factors that impact the wound, but best of all HOW TO REVEAL it through behavior to avoid the dreaded issue of backstory or info-dump.

The rest of the book is broken down into categories of emotional wounds, running the gamut from disabilities and disfigurements, to crime and victimization, injustice and hardship, betrayals, specific childhood wounds, which let’s face it, can be some of the most damaging wounds to characters.

Within each category is a breakdown of the types of wounds or traumas that could take place. For instance, a carjacking. Examples are given of how someone’s car was jacked, the basic needs sometimes compromised by this wound, false beliefs that could be embraced, fears the character may now have because of the incident, responses and results that could form later on, personality traits that could form—positive and negative, triggers that could aggravate the wound, finishing up with how the character could face or overcome the wound.

At the end of the book are worksheets writers can use to help them discovering just what trauma wounded their protagonist – or even their villains! There’s a Wound flowchart, an Arc progression tool, a backstory wound profile tool, and finishing up with wounding examples from popular stories.

The authors of the EWT had to dig deep into emotional traumas of all types, dig into the behaviors and personalities that stem from the wounds. Ackerman and Puglisi lived with their research so much so that the book opens with Self-Care for Writers, suggestions for how authors should take care in case any of the wound entries hit them where they are most vulnerable.

I’ve been a long-time fan of Angela Ackerman, Rebecca Puglisi, and their entire series of books, as well as their blog, and the One Stop for Writers website. Not a week goes by that I don’t use at least one of their other thesauruses. So speaking from personal experience, I can tell other authors that the Emotional Wound Thesaurus is a groundbreaking book that everyone can benefit from in order to write richer, more complex characters and stories. I send a huge thank you, and endless hugs to the EWT authors. You have my endless gratitude for not only putting together all your research, but for continuing to add to your series of thesauruses!

I am very excited to have won an advance copy of this book in order to review it. I can honestly say it’s the best reference book I’ve ever read! So don’t wait – order this book now from your favorite retailer. I know you’ll find it as invaluable as I do!
Profile Image for Lynelle Clark.
Author 23 books163 followers
July 23, 2020
A great tool for an author who are looking for greater depth in a story.
The practical guide is useful and a must have.
Profile Image for J.C. Harroway.
Author 82 books60 followers
October 26, 2017
I love this series of books and have them all in my reference library. The latest volume The Emotional Wound Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Psychological Trauma, is the best so far. Perfect for character driven stories, the Emotional Wound Thesaurus will help you brainstorm your characters past, their emotional conflict and what motivates their actions and behaviours.

The introductory pages—an excellent craft book in itself—explore the impact of an emotional wound on the character's personality, their behaviour and their arc, the villains journey and factors that impact on a character's wound, as well as brainstorming the character's wound and showing the wound through behavior.
The thesaurus itself, like previous volumes, is laid out in sections and covers an range of over one hundred emotional wounds from being stalked to growing up in a cult through infertility and having to kill to survive. More common wounds are also explored, for example, being bullied, divorce, a miscarriage or suicide of a loved one, to name a few.

Each wound is explored with examples, false beliefs stemming from the wound, what the character may fear, personality traits associated with that wound, triggers and how the character might overcome the specific wound.

The appendices feature helpful flowcharts, a wound profile questionnaire and an extensive recommended reading list.

This really useful resource would appeal to all fiction writers, whatever the genre. I found it invaluable for my current work in progress and will use it for every future book I write.

I received an ARC from the author for an honest review.
Profile Image for Sacha Black.
Author 18 books243 followers
October 24, 2017
What sets this apart from other writing craft books is the way it gets to the core of humanity's psychology. If you want to understand a character, like truly, deeply and fundamentally know what pushes your protagonists to save the world time and time again, this is the book for you. But the magic of it is that it won't just teach you about characters, it will teach you about people too.

This book is so many things: writing mentor and tutor, an encyclopedia of human psychology, inspiration bucket, reference tool, character development guide and so much more.

It gave me a number of personal epiphanies. Every time I read one of the Ackerman-Puglisi thesauri my writing jumps up a hundred developmental notches.

These thesauri are writing craft cult classics, that's a fact. It's also a fact that their latest Wound Thesauri MUST be in every writer's reference collection.

10 stars out of 5.
Profile Image for Carolyn Miller.
Author 36 books873 followers
November 10, 2017
One of the best writing resources I've come across! The Emotional Wound Thesaurus delves into the reasons why characters act the way they do, through exploring over a hundred different traumatic and challenging situations that shape people and give reason for the false beliefs they embrace and how this affects them and their relationships. If you write fiction, and you want to create authentic characters, then you need to read this book.
Profile Image for Linda.
1,009 reviews21 followers
July 15, 2020
Gets a little traumatic

The writers warn that anyone reading this might start thinking of their own traumas from their pasts. They were right so proceed with caution if there's anything you want to avoid thinking about. Mainly, I will use this book if I need to figure out why a character might act a certain way. It's hard to just sit down and read this for pleasure since it deals so much with trauma.
Profile Image for S.R. Brown.
Author 1 book4 followers
January 7, 2022
Very helpful craft book that breaks down the big and little ways trauma can effect a character. It makes the process more manageable.
Profile Image for Katia M. Davis.
Author 4 books12 followers
November 22, 2017
Where did I find this book? I purchased it from the Kobo store online.

Why did I purchase this book? I bought this along with a couple of other Writers Helping Writers guides. I read it first because it will help with the backstory and motivation for a main character I am currently writing.

Layout and should the book be read in a particular way? Aside from the introductory section, this book doesn’t have to be read straight through. There may even be parts of it you will never need or don’t want to read.

The book is structured with a series of introductory chapters dealing with things such as, what is an emotional wound?, character arc, brainstorming, the villain’s journey, revealing the emotional wound through behaviour, problems to avoid among others. This introduction works well to set up the reader and help them understand the function and structure of the actual thesaurus section.

The bulk of the book is divided into several main groupings with sub-topics (the events causing the emotional wounds). For instance, the first section is Crime and Victimisation. Within that, there are events such as a home invasion, being held captive, or identity theft. Each sub-topic is then assessed using several criteria. These are:

- Examples
- Basic needs often compromised
- False beliefs
- What the character may fear
- Possible responses
- Personality traits that may form
- Triggers
- Opportunities to face or overcome the wound

At the back of the book there are a series of Appendices. These include a useful flowchart a writer can use to crosscheck each of the elements required for a believable wounding event, a character arc progression tool (including a link to a printable version), and examples of emotional wounds in popular stories to illustrate the process at work in existing material.

What did I think of the book? The book was well set out and clear, with good examples and reasoning behind the discussions. I especially liked the inclusion of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as the driving force behind the emotional response to events. The book appears to be US-centric. If you are writing a novel or story set in the US, it is very useful for someone who has not grown up or lived there, especially for understanding extreme emotional responses to certain things, such as the high cost of healthcare, or gun crime for example.

I did not read the book straight through, aside from the introductory chapters. I focussed on the emotional events that were of interest to me and skimmed the remainder. I don’t feel this detracted from my reading of the book in any way, after all, if you are looking for something in a traditional thesaurus, you don’t need to read the whole thing to find the word you seek.

I thought it was useful the authors included both positive and negative personality traits that might develop from experiencing traumatic events. I think we have a tendency to assume negative events will always have a negative influence on our psyche. However most things can have benefits if we take the time to look for them; the what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, or silver lining effect.

I found the Appendices at the back of the book are particularly helpful, notably the printable character arc progression tool.

Would I recommend this book and to whom? Yes, I would recommend this book, primarily to writers, especially if they struggle with identifying their character’s main motivation or need. It also works as a checklist to make sure you’ve written a well rounded character backstory or emotional response. Anyone who enjoys the psychology of trauma in general may find this book a worthwhile read purely for interest’s sake.
Profile Image for Traci.
90 reviews10 followers
October 28, 2017
Book Talk…10/27/17
Traci Kenworth

The Emotional Wound Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Psychological Trauma by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. Oct. 25th 2017. I received an arc for review.

I was approached by a team of writers whose thesaurus works and website have been an amazing plus to my writing to do a review of their newest tool for writers. As I’ve learned, plot isn’t just about theme or an idea. It’s about complications, the more you can dig down deep into the character the better. So, let’s say for instance, you want to write about a character disillusioned by life. What made them that way? A robbery? An assault? Going through a divorce? Losing their kids?
You can thumb through The Emotional Wound Thesaurus and find an entry like this: Being Legitimately Incarcerated for a Crime. Under this you would find basic needs compromised by this, false beliefs that could be embraced, and many more. Such as basic need: Love and belonging. False beliefs: I’ll always be a screw-up. Triggers that may aggravate the wound: seeing police on the streets. You could take this info and create a character like the following:

Greg crouched behind the Toyota Camry. The police were here. Had Tina called them? What was her angle? Didn’t his sister belief in him any longer? He was no longer that person who’d schemed and stolen from his friends at seventeen. He ducked down when the police officer shined his flashlight his way. Hell, he wouldn’t belief in himself either. He was no good. Just like Momma said. Just like Tina probably believed too. He’d never get a second chance. He didn’t deserve one.

Character wound #2: Infidelity. Examples: One’s husband or wife having an affair at work. The character may fear: trusting the wrong person.

Monica would know what to do. She’d seen the signs with Jay. Their marriage had survived. Hers and Ben’s could too. She just needed some advice. She highlighted call under Monica’s name on her cell. A sleepy male voice answered, “Hello?”
“Why are you answering Monica’s cellphone?”
Commotion in the background. Monica’s voice. “Who is it?”
“Shelley,” Ben hissed.

There are some great entries in the beginning of the book that help you learn how to create a character that’s three-dimensional. After all, we don’t want to write stick figure characters, we want some heart and soul in there. The hurts, to be specific. It’s what draws us to the character, makes us want to read on, and invests in the outcome of the story. They go over a villain’s journey, revealing the wound through behavior, and much more.
There is so, so much good in these thesaurus entries. They’re there when you’re stuck and don’t know where to go, how to break yourself out of the mire. They give that extra lift needed to get out and to go on or to crash all together depending on what type of story you’re writing. I keep them on my desk and on my kindle for times when I need them. These ladies work very hard at what they do and I can’t say enough nice things about them. They truly give writers like me hope. Won’t you try them today?


Profile Image for Jordan Lynch.
766 reviews7 followers
November 7, 2017
All writers can use some help from time to time, and I myself find I need most help when it comes to building characters that aren’t like me. Since my life experience is usually at least somewhat different from my characters, I don’t have my own thoughts and memories to fall back on, so some research is required to build a realistic and accurate character. I’ve found that all of Angela and Becca’s thesauruses provide a wealth of information for building a story from the ground up, and the information comes in one (or two) convenient books that go above and beyond what my own internet searches can find.

The newest addition to their line-up is the Emotional Wound Thesaurus. As the title would suggest, this thesaurus explores psychological traumas that may have influenced your characters to make them into who they are at the point you’re writing them. In other words, this thesaurus is to help with backstory. No character comes without baggage, and the Emotional Wound Thesaurus will help you unpack the past and figure out exactly who your character is.

As with all of Angela and Becca’s thesauruses, this book is well-researched and incredibly thorough. The entries contain not just examples of traumas, but also a number of possible character responses to the trauma. These responses include false beliefs a character may embrace, fears and traits the character may develop, and triggers that may aggravate the wound. If the descriptions aren’t comprehensive, they’re pretty darn close, and they provide information in almost area that you would want in order to write a realistic character.

To make things even easier, Angela and Becca also provide appendices and worksheets to help you work out your character’s backstory and emotional wounding event so that you can easily include this information in your story without dumping a lot of backstory on your readers.

The Emotional Wound Thesaurus is a must-have resource for writers. It’s comprehensive, it’s convenient, and it’s reliable. Angela and Becca have done their work, and it really shows. Their hard work makes it that much easier to create believable characters with complex backgrounds that will pull readers in.

*I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy of this book for review. I can't wait to get my hands on a physical copy!
Profile Image for Elle.
221 reviews10 followers
October 7, 2019
The Emotional Wound Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi is a fantastic edition to their growing series of help books for writers. The Emotional Wound Thesaurus collects and categories 121 different emotional wounds or traumatic situations. It analyses why people or characters might have these wounds, various ways they can manifest in actions/behaviour, both positive and negative personality traits that may form as a result, situations that could trigger someone who had suffered this trauma, and potential ways to deal with the trauma and move beyond it. Ackerman & Puglisi also list fictional characters who suffer these wounds, so readers can either obtain a brief understanding of the wound in play or research further on their own for fictional examples/behaviour.

Useful on its own, but even more-so when paired with The Negative Trait Thesaurus and The Positive Trait Thesaurus. By linking this book to others in their series, Ackerman & Puglisi are definitely building their brand and maximising sales, but also providing a source (their own) of more information to better round out characters.

Of most interest is the fact that this isn't an easy 'copy and paste' list from their books to your character profile. So many potential options are listed that writers still need to apply critical thought and planning to building their characters -- which of the possible 20+ behaviours from one wound might your character display? Which personality traits are most likely to be adopted, given their base personality from before the trauma occurred? There's still plenty of room for personalisation.

I think this is the most useful of all the writer help guides/thesauruses by Ackerman & Puglisi, but also works great in tandem with the Negative and Positive Trait Thesauruses. If you buy only one, buy this one. If you've got the money for three, this and the two Trait Thesauruses (because their definition of the traits aren't always what I associate with the trait/name, so is worth checking if you're selecting some traits based off the wound suggestions).
Profile Image for K. M.
265 reviews18 followers
October 24, 2017
I got so lucky being chosen to read and review an advanced copy and all I have to say to the authors Ackerman & Puglisi is THANK YOU! Thank you for having the foresight to write this series and thank you for adding this book, EMOTIONAL WOUND THESAURUS, to the series.

Okay, enough of the sappy stuff, on to the review... umm, it’s great. The end. No really, if you’re a writer and have difficulty adding description and a richness to your writing because you tend to write short (ex. She was happy) this is the book, or maybe I should say series, to get. Instead of giving you words that might help, they introduce the question “Why?” Why does your character feel that way? And from that, help you in creating a more 3-D character.

Want a little taste? So let’s say your character is a victim of Identity theft. The brilliant authors give you examples of possible ways Identity theft might happen (passport stolen/ used), how this might make the character feel (alone, scared of financial ruin), and how this thing might shape your character (scared of technology, always paying with cash). Not to mention the authors write in such an easy, simple way, it’s impossible to not to be encouraged in thinking of other stories: stolen passport of government agent leads to identity theft. Will government secrets be revealed? Or can she stop it time? Ah, I love this series.

Overall, if you want to be a better writer, get this (and all their) books!! Yes, I’m a crazy fan who will never be without this series.
Profile Image for David Lamb.
22 reviews
June 1, 2020
This book is aimed at writers who want to develop a firm basis for their character's motivations and actions, rooted in the psychology of mistaken beliefs ("Lies") that arise from traumatic events ("Wounds") in the character's past; I recently researched roughly 50 websites advocating variants of this approach. This can guide the creation of meaningful and compelling character arcs, which I'm told most readers expect in most genres. It seems more suited to planners (those who prepare extensively before writing) than to discovery writers, but can be used by both; discovery writers, or those who focus on plot over characters, can in principle work backwards from a story draft, but it is a more difficult approach. From my computer-geek perspective, it occurred to me that working backwards could benefit from a reverse-lookup tool that, given a small set of personality traits, could list the wounds that could give rise to that combination or subsets of it. Searching the electronic document is possible, but time-consuming.

I rated it 4/5 because I'm one of those working-backwards writers. A first pass at reading through every entry suggested about a dozen possibilities, none of which quite fit the sleuth I had in mind. I suspect other writers might have more success, and thus rate it 5/5; at the moment it has a 4.73 rating overall. I strongly recommend an electronic version; I'm finding it very helpful to be able to search the document and bookmark several pages.
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