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Creating Character Emotions

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  287 ratings  ·  32 reviews
Sweaty palms. Butterflies in the stomach. Pacing back and forth. There is no doubt this character is nervous. But isn't there a more original, more vivid way to express this emotion? Absolutely. In this unique book, Ann Hood will help you find fresh, creative images, words and gestures to evoke feelings in your fiction. In 36 "mini-lessons, " Hood sheds new light on love, ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published February 15th 1998 by Story Press Books
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Average rating 3.79  · 
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 ·  287 ratings  ·  32 reviews

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Oct 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Ann Hood does a marvelous job teaching how to write character emotions. In Part I, she talks of writing about emotions. She writes, "Emotions affect every other element of fiction--dialogue, action, character development, plot, theme." Furthermore, when writing an emotion, write the second choice or option. This way you can avoid cliches and melodrama.

In Part II, Ms. Hood provides 36 "mini-lessons." In each lesson is a short discussion on the emotion, followed by bad examples and goo
Angela Blount
Nov 27, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: writing-craft
“I leave a lot out when I tell the truth. The same when I write a story.” –Amy Hempel

A quick and potentially useful reference guide; one which needn’t be read in order. Each chapter references a single emotion and is made up of an introduction, a listing of bad examples, good examples, and Exercises composed of 3 objectives. (The aim being to successfully evoke emotions in readers with a sort of indirect subtly. )

Despite its age, this book has a number of timeless and valuable con
Tom Franklin
Sep 16, 2009 rated it did not like it
In the Show, Don't Tell world of writing, having your characters express emotions through good writing can be difficult. Characters can only wring their hands and furrow their brows so many times. Having them express complex emotions through thoughts and actions takes considerable thought, practice and advice from other writers.

This book, however, is not one to read if you're in need of serious help.

I gave this book a quick read-through at my local bookstore and was very
Carre Gardner
Apr 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
An excellent book on writing, with lots of concrete suggestions for writing specific emotions. My only complaint is that the author heavily references her own work, using it as "good examples" of how to write emotion. I've never read any of her novels, and from the excerpts given, I don't feel any interest in reading them. She does reference others' work as well, but I wish she had done more of that, and tooted her own horn a little less. Otherwise, a stellar tool!
Savannah Foley
Jun 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book was published in 1996 and some of the examples felt slightly out-dated. I wish there would be a newer version of the book because it's really, really great. I definitely recommend it as a tool for writers looking to grow their 'show, don't tell' skills.
Jeffery Cotton
May 09, 2012 rated it liked it
In Creating Character Emotions, author Ann Hood makes the argument we’ve heard so many times before (not that it isn’t worth repeating): show your characters emotions rather than telling about them. Each chapter is devoted to one emotion (36 in all). Many reviewers on Amazon complain that the chapters are too brief and lack any in-depth look at the issues.

My complaint: the Bad vs. Good examples she offers — telling vs. showing — hardly distinguish themselves from one another, and often the ve
JB Lynn
Nov 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
I've read a lot of books on the craft of writing, and most of them mention the value in writing convincing, emotional, characters, but usually only in vague terms. Ann Hood uses this entire book to explore the various emotions a character may feel and gives you both good and bad examples of how to write each one. After a general introduction, the book is split into chapters, with each chapter a different emotion. The chapter starts off with a quick - often comical - anecdote from Hood's personal ...more
Apr 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing
Normally I don’t go for these technique specific books, but this one is really quite good. What makes it good is that Hood breaks the chapters down into recognizable emotions such as anger, frustration, and resentment, and then provides example of what she considers good and bad ways to portray those emotions. It was an eye-opener. Some of the bad examples didn’t seem that bad to me until she explained why they were bad. And some of the good examples didn’t seem that good until she explained why ...more
Aug 19, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: library-checkout
A book for writers, with examples of bad ways and good ways to depict a wide variety of emotions. It was interesting, but when I read several of the examples, I found myself wondering if my son gets even more of his autism from me than I’d thought — I couldn’t see why a particular sample showed that particular emotion, or I got an entirely different emotion from the passage than she did. This one isn’t going to be terribly useful for me, so I’m glad I checked it out from the library.
Mar 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the examples. A good basic book for someone learning to write.
Joni Fisher
Jul 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Ann Hood's book serves as a guide for writers, journalists, and playwrights on how to capture and express in words even the most complex emotional states. Wow. I'm keeping this book in the reference section of my book shelves for easy reach. I have heard Ann Hood speak at writer's conferences and she is just as impressive in person as in this fine book at teaching the finer points of characterization. Thank you, thank you, for this labor of love.
Jan 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent book that gives great tips for how to create real emotions and avoid the cliches. I don't follow the exercises rigidly but it's a great tool to help you get started. It's also a good device to use when you are writing a story and need help when trying to write "melodramatic" scenes without actually coming off melodramatic.
Aug 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book helped me think more creatively about the emotions of my characters in "Rising Hope". The author provides 36 "mini-lessons" on how to convey characters' varied emotions such as love, hate, fear, grief, guilt, hope, and jealousy. Hood's book helped me zero in on my main character's primary emotion of loneliness/loss, and how to use this emotion to move the story along.
Jason Meuschke
Oct 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Excellent resource that I'll be keeping nearby when I write. Made me consider aspects of certain emotions I'd not thought of. Time wise, I only picked up the book a couple of times to read so it could've easily been read faster.
Dec 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing-books
I recommend this book frequently. It's a starting point, a primer rather than a manual, on how to use action and other narrative elements to suggest character emotion.
Therese Gilardi
May 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
excellent how-to primer
Natasha Fondren
Jan 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A re-read. One of the pivotal books from when I was learning to write. Still good.
Paul Baker
Jun 26, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
I usually don't post a review when I dislike a book, but I wanted to pass on one comment. All through this book, I could not escape the feeling that it was written with middle school beginning writers in mind. In fact, if it had been marketed as such, I probably would not have read it in the first place. That being said, the author's approach is as follows: 1) she tells you a little about the emotion, 2) she cites examples of bad writing expressing that emotion, 3) she gives you examples of good ...more
Jan 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a pretty good book, especially for beginning and/or intermediate writers. Lots of information with easy to follow exercises at the end of each chapter.

I do use actual psychology text books for more accurate, detailed descriptions of character and their emotional life, but this is nice reading, too.

Also, writers don't have to complete the exercises right away or all at once. Just choose the emotion(s) that is needed to suit a particular character at a particular time in the s
Aug 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Hood's complaint about the "bad" example in the "Forgiveness" chapter that features the characters Spalding and Hank is that it begs for context. There is no rational reason why she would have taken a scene out of context and then complained that it begged for context. The only logical reason for this is that that must have been a self-contained scene that one of the students in her creative writing classes must have written in response to a prompt that she had written on the board--presumably a ...more
Mar 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is very thorough, and very worth reading a second time, and then going back through each set of emotions with your Work In Progress, to edit scene by scene for the desired effects in each scene. So, that is exactly what I plan to do when I finish my first or second draft of my current WIP.
Oct 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
Emotion thesaurus is better.
Ally Charest
Nov 30, 2015 rated it liked it
I’d recommend this book for anyone that struggles with putting their character’s emotions into writing. It’s easy to grab cliches and it’s easier to tell verses show, but what sets great writers apart is their ability to help the readers feel and experience what the characters do. We can do for easy writing or we can go for life-impacting writing. The choice is ours to make each time we sit down to pen or type our next novel. While I didn’t care for all the examples used (not my reading preferen ...more
Aug 01, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
It's been a while since I've done a lot of writing, but I know enough about writing to know that this book is almost completely useless. Several of the things on the "bad example" lists can be correct, if done properly, and a lot of the things on the "good example" lists are really not that good. The one thing that MAY be useful about this book is the writing exercises, but even those are kind of meh. In conclusion - worst book about writing I've read yet.
Aug 12, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, writing
This book covers about twenty basic emotions, from love to fear to hate, explaining the essence of each and providing several passages as examples. Unfortunately, as you can usually feel the emotion of a passage only in the larger context of a story, it is a little difficult to appreciate what each example is trying to achieve without that context in place. Nevertheless, you can glean some clues about creating character emotions from them.
Jan 02, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016-read
This book was all right. It made me really think about different emotions for my characters, but not sure if it really helped me learn how to express them through "show don't tell." Worth a read though as everyone learns differently.
Jan 28, 2013 rated it liked it
This one didn't do a whole lot for me. It was very reader intensive, and took a while to get to the useful information. On the plus side, it does break the different emotions down into separate categories, which does tend to be helpful.
May 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
simple to use reference.
Anna Forsyth
Oct 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Awesome go-to reference book.
Melanie Surani
Feb 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is a fantastic book for pointing out the "oh, I never thought of it that way", with regard to writing emotions. I use this book every time I write something (fictional).
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Ann Hood is the editor of Knitting Yarns: Writers on Knitting and the bestselling author of The Book That Matters Most, The Knitting Circle, The Red Thread, Comfort, and An Italian Wife, among other works. She is the recipient of two Pushcart Prizes, a Best American Spiritual Writing Award, a Best American Food Writing Award, a Best American Travel Writing Award, and the Paul Bowles Prize for Short Fiction. She lives in Providence, Rhode Is ...more