Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression” as Want to Read:
The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

(Writers Helping Writers Series #1)

4.49  ·  Rating details ·  5,024 ratings  ·  673 reviews

The bestselling Emotion Thesaurus, often hailed as “the gold standard for writers” and credited with transforming how writers craft emotion, has now been expanded to include 55 new entries!

One of the biggest struggles for writers is how to convey emotion to readers in a unique and compelling way. When showing our characters’ feelings, we often use the first idea that comes

Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Published February 19th 2019 by JADD Publishing (first published April 21st 2012)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.49  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,024 ratings  ·  673 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression
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 practiced writing
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
Feb 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
John Martin
Oct 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Food for thought

I suspect this will become a go-to manual for me when I’m writing. Most of us get stuck in the middle of the writing road. This book offers a long list of ideas to get us going again — all neatly indexed and with suggestions on how that particular emotion might play out, and how it might escalate or mellow.
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 ge ...more
Oct 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Love this reference book. It's the writer's bible. Easy to navigate and loads of good ideas for the show not tell 'party'. ...more
Oct 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing, 4-star
Okay, wow.

12% of this book is really helpful introduction and explanation with examples, and all of the rest is a list of emotions and how you can describe them in different ways. But like it's a looong list with lots of ideas.

Very helpful. 👍

Reading the rest of the series for sure.
Stina Lindenblatt
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. ...more
S.A. Larsen
Jun 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Seeley James
May 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 th
Ksenia Anske
Jan 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 m ...more
I definitely recommend this to all writers
Jo-Ann Carson
May 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 16, 2012 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
Mar 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
Apr 29, 2012 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
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! ...more
Melanie Stanford
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. ...more
Nicole Dunlap
Apr 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!!!! ...more
Allison Collins
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Take a look at the people around you. Some of them are wide open, others keep to themselves. Some are loud, some quiet and reserved. Human beings react to situations in very different ways. That’s what authors want to do with their characters, and it’s not always easy to write what you want them to feel/think/say/do.

That’s where the Emotion Thesaurus 2nd Edition comes into play. Yes, the brilliant Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi are back with an expanded edition of their first book. There are
T.H. Hernandez
I want to scream from the rooftops to every author out there: go get this book! We’re constantly told to “show, don’t tell,” but finding the right way to show can make all the difference in the world between a scene that merely goes through the motions and one that that brings the reader deep into the story and allows them to get lost. THE EMOTION THESAURUS is part how-to, and part reference. After learning how to use the guide, there are 130 entries to help you find the right way to show charac ...more
R.J. Sorrento
Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing-craft
An excellent for resource for writers who struggle with showing emotions on the page. It sits beside me as I edit my novel. I love this book.
Paula Cappa
Feb 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Emotion vs. feeling. As writers of fiction, we need to understand the difference when creating character expression on the page. In Ackerman and Puglisi's second edition of The Emotion Thesaurus, they address the power of emotion in fiction. The whole point of the book is that 'readers don't want to be told how a character feels; they want to experience the emotion for themselves.' This book is a great addition to any writer’s resource library. It's a how-to and in-depth book on how writers can ...more
Catherine 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
May 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 car ...more
Gabe Novoa
Jul 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book has been my #1 Go-To Writing Help book for my NaNo (National Novel Writing Month) project. With 2 full pages of ideas about how to SHOW character emotions for each of the 75 different entries, I have endless options for the physical signs, internal thoughts, and internal sensations (visceral reactions) for every emotion, whether the character is the point-of-view character or not.

*insert endless pages of gushing here* <--Seriously, it's that good, but I have to get back to writing now.
Shah Wharton
May 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A brilliant resource for fiction writers - packed with description cues and insights on personality traits, physicality, human responses and physical behaviours to all kinds of emotions.

Such a great thing to have on hand while you add those all important layers to your MS.

Also, please check out their blog for many more descriptions, including places, types of weather, etc. And they have a great blog roll too :) X
Danny Tyran
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. ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: 2nd and 1st editions of The Emotion Thesaurus getting mixed up 2 20 Mar 04, 2019 05:54PM  
Excellent resource 10 30 Jan 17, 2018 02:30PM  
Can't wait 10 36 Aug 18, 2012 01:22AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Show, Don't Tell: How to write vivid descriptions, handle backstory, and describe your characters’ emotions (Writers’ Guide Series Book 3)
  • How to Write Dazzling Dialogue: The Fastest Way to Improve Any Manuscript
  • Character Reactions from Head to Toe
  • Creating Character Arcs: The Masterful Author's Guide to Uniting Story Structure, Plot, and Character Development
  • Save the Cat! Writes a Novel
  • Understanding Show, Don't Tell (And Really Getting It) (Skill Builders Series, #1)
  • Let's Get Digital: How to Self-Publish, and Why You Should
  • Strong Verbs for Fiction Writers (Indie Author Resources Book 2)
  • Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story
  • Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel (Before You Waste Three Years Writing 327 Pages That Go Nowhere)
  • Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print
  • Romancing the Beat: Story Structure for Romance Novels (How to Write Kissing Books Book 1)
  • Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success
  • Master Lists for Writers: Thesauruses, Plots, Character Traits, Names, and More
  • The Emotional Craft of Fiction: How to Write with Emotional Power, Develop Achingly Real Characters, Move Your Readers, and Create Riveting Moral Stakes
  • Stein on Writing: A Master Editor of Some of the Most Successful Writers of Our Century Shares His Craft Techniques and Strategies
  • Mastering Showing and Telling in Your Fiction (Busy Writer's Guides, #4)
  • Writing Vivid Settings: Professional Techniques for Fiction Authors (Writer's Craft Book 10)
See similar books…
See top shelves…
ANGELA ACKERMAN is a writing coach, international speaker, and co-author of 8 bestselling books for writers, including The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression (now an expanded 2nd Edition). Her books are available in eight languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world.

Angela is also the co-fo

Other books in the series

Writers Helping Writers Series (7 books)
  • The Negative Trait Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Flaws
  • The Positive Trait Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Attributes
  • The Rural Setting Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Personal and Natural Places
  • The Urban Setting Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to City Spaces
  • The Emotional Wound Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Psychological Trauma
  • The Occupation Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Jobs, Vocations, and Careers

News & Interviews

These twelve books are so consistently adored, they have become regulars month after month in our data of most popular and most read books on...
132 likes · 49 comments
“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.” 5 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” 3 likes
More quotes…