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

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

by Becca Puglisi, Angela Ackerman

Paperback(2nd ed.)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780999296349
Publisher: Jadd Publishing
Publication date: 02/19/2019
Edition description: 2nd ed.
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 1,489
Product dimensions: 7.01(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.64(d)

About the Author

In her former life, Becca Puglisi was a teacher-elementary, because six-year-olds are easy to push around and the math isn't too hard. She read roughly a gajillion picture books to her students, and it was her love for these books that originally motivated her to become an author, though she's since moved on to young adult novels.

Now, Becca is a YA fantasy/historical fiction writer and co-author of a number of descriptive thesauruses for writers, including the bestselling The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression. She also is co-founder of One Stop For Writers®, a unique online resource containing many helpful tools, craft tutorials, and the entire Writers Helping Writers thesaurus collection (cross-referenced and searchable!). Becca is an international speaker who enjoys teaching workshops and presenting various writerly topics. Her books are represented by foreign rights agent Marleen Seegers of 2 Seas Agency.

During her free time (ha), Becca enjoys playing video games with her kids, watching movies with her husband, teaching Bible studies, baking, and adding to her stash of emergency supplies. She has always enjoyed contemplating the What if? scenario, which served her well when she lived in south Florida and will help her survive the winter now that she's moved to New York.

Angela is Canadian and loves her home near Calgary, Alberta, nestled close to the Rockies. She enjoys traveling with her family, exploring new and unusual places, and is constantly amazed at how the universe seems to bring along the people she needs to connect with at just the right time.

The author of 6 bestselling resource books printed in 6 different languages, Angela enjoys sharing her passion for writing craft. She is a writing coach, international speaker, and a firm believer that writers succeed best together. The desire to help writers in new, innovative ways is a love she shares with Becca Puglisi and Lee Powell, and together the three formed One Stop for Writers®, a unique site filled with custom tools and writing resources built to help writers elevate their storytelling.

In the fiction realm, Angela is sowing her wild oats, playing around with darker themes and interesting plot twists. Her audience of preference is middle grade and young adult, but lately she's been toying with trying an adult thriller on for size.

Angela's foreign rights are being cared for by Marleen Seegers of 2 Seas Agency.

Table of Contents

Writing Nonverbal Emotion: Avoiding Common Problems


  • Telling
  • Clichéd Emotions
  • Melodrama
  • Over-Reliance on Dialogue or Thoughts
  • Misusing Backstory to Enhance Reader Empathy


Emotion Entries



  • Adoration
  • Agitation
  • Amazement
  • Amusement
  • Anger
  • Anguish
  • Annoyance
  • Anticipation
  • Anxiety
  • Confidence
  • Conflicted
  • Confusion
  • Contempt
  • Curiosity
  • Defeat
  • Defensiveness
  • Denial
  • Depression
  • Desire
  • Desperation
  • Determination
  • Disappointment
  • Disbelief
  • Disgust
  • Doubt
  • Dread
  • Eagerness
  • Elation
  • Embarrassment
  • Envy
  • Excitement
  • Fear
  • Frustration
  • Gratitude
  • Guilt
  • Happiness
  • Hatred
  • Hopefulness
  • Humiliation
  • Hurt
  • Impatience
  • Indifference
  • Insecurity
  • Irritation
  • Jealousy
  • Loneliness
  • Love
  • Nervousness
  • Nostalgia
  • Overwhelmed
  • Paranoia
  • Peacefulness
  • Pride
  • Rage
  • Regret
  • Relief
  • Reluctance
  • Remorse
  • Resentment
  • Resignation
  • Sadness
  • Satisfaction
  • Scorn
  • Shame
  • Skepticism
  • Smugness
  • Somberness
  • Surprise/Shock
  • Suspicion
  • Sympathy
  • Terror
  • Uncertainty
  • Unease
  • Wariness
  • Worry

Customer Reviews

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The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have waited months for this book to be published. The authors' blog the bookshelf muse is a treasure of info for a writer, but sometimes it's not practical to visit in the middle of writing or revising. This book has so much more info than just on emotions. The authors have given examples of telling vs. showing and cliched expressions. Each emotion comes with physical and internal signs. There is a progression of emotion into other emotions or other levels of this emotion. At $4.99 you can't go wrong in buying this book. MM, Workships with MM
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great resource for any writer. It not only describes the emotion but does it in a way that puts the emotion on a continuum. It ranges from mild to more intense. It's a great book!
transplantedsoutherner More than 1 year ago
I started using this book as soon as it arrived. Instead of spending fifteen minutes coming up with some body language, I could run through the contents where the emotions are listed alphabetically and go to that page then decide what the point of view character would be feeling (internal sensations) or what someone else would be seeing (visual). I thought it might have photographs, but those aren't necessary. The authors have gone the extra step that photographs would have forced: describing the expression. It's in a large format so that it's easier to hold flat then some bindings. A wonderful, wonderful resource.
ReenaJacobs More than 1 year ago
I have to admit, I was a bit bummed to see one of my favorite free resources with a price tag. But really, I don't blame the authors. Their online Emotion Thesaurus was a treasure cove. In the end, I didn't want to be without it and made the purchase. The Emotion Thesaurus is an excellent resource. The purpose of the book isn't to copy and paste ways to show the emotion into your own writing, but rather to help spur your imagination... give you ideas to expand upon. Okay... I'll be honest, I didn't read this book in its entirety. But then again, it's not that kind of book, since it's for reference. Without fail, I've gone to the Bookshelf Muse (the author's website) to surf the Emotion Thesaurus during the writing process, and even more often during the editing process. The website offered a variety of ways to show different emotions. No more getting stuck with a frown for anger or a smile for happiness. The Bookshelf Muse provided ways how to show emotions throughout your character (internally/externally, facial/body). When the author/blogger condensed and simplified the Emotion Thesaurus on her blog, she didn't leave us hanging. Instead, she put everything plus some in this book. What I like less about the eBook version: Clicking through the emotions isn't nearly as easy as the website version. With the website, I simply went to the sidebar and clicked the emotion. In the eBook version, I might have to flip through a few pages before I can click to the table of content then flip through more pages before I hit the emotion I want. Still, the author made it as convenient as possible. At the end of each emotion there is the option to click the table of contents. What I liked more about the eBook version: Not worrying about having an internet connection or her blog being down (not that I recall her blog ever going down). When I'm stumped, I just pick up my eReader and find the emotion I need. Definitely a 5 star resource book and worth every brown cent.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was very helpful during the writing process. Before I purchased this I was always flipping through the pages of my thesaurus. This pertains specifically to the writer which was so helpful.
kbaccellia More than 1 year ago
I totally love this ebook! I'm a YA author and I've been using this to help dig deeper in my own writing. I love how it's organized by emotions. This ebook shows writers different ways of expressing their characters different emotions without being too cliche. A must add to any collection.
tx_writer More than 1 year ago
The Emotion Thesaurus tries to cover every potential emotional area a writer might want to explore for characters. I used most of the examples to help me narrow down the emotional state I wanted for a particular scene. The ebook made it easy to jump from the table of contents list of emotions directly to the one I selected, then back again. That certainly made jumping around easy. I recommend this book.
ReneeKytokorpi More than 1 year ago
This book is exactly as described. Contains lists of 'showing' ways to express an emotion of different intensities, sorted by emotion. Very useful and very straightforward!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bought this not because i needed it. I have a tablet so its easy to access their site on the go. I wanted to support the authors because what they did with this book is a tremendous help. I would gladly buy their other thesauriif they were made available!
Anonymous 23 hours ago
I absolutely love this book! I've kept it open on my computer while working on my current novel, and every time one of my characters feels an emotion, I turn to The Emotion Thesaurus to find different ways to show and express it. My writing has grown richer as I've been inspired to look deeper and go beyond the superficial when it comes to showing (not just telling) feelings. Every fiction author needs this resource!
KRSargent 1 days ago
The Emotion Thesaurus (1st edition) has long been my go-to resource for adding authentic emotion to my writing. When Angela and Becca announced a 2nd edition, I wondered what more they could add to a resource that hasn’t failed me yet. A quick skim of the table of contents shows nearly twice as many emotion entries, and now includes betrayal, disillusionment, inadequate, vengeful, and oh so many more words we writers need! The format for each entry looks familiar, but these have been expanded as well. Each emotion now comes with a power verb list. (This might be my favorite new feature!) As with the original book, a writing tip concludes each entry. So, many new entries mean lots of new writing tips—thoughtful, challenging writing tips. If you’re tempted to skip the introduction to this new edition, don’t. Part psychology lesson in human behavior and part writing instruction, this one-two punch is the foundation for skillfully and effectively infusing our characters—and our readers—with authentic emotion. I always give away a copy of The Emotion Thesaurus at my writing workshops. My give-away just got better!
ABCollins 1 days ago
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 55 new emotions to help authors make their characters authentic and real, and to get readers to empathize with them, and want to keep turning those pages, and buying those books. With the new additions, it brings a total of 130 emotions to refer to. But it’s not just 55 new emotions – this book really digs deep into writing those stories. Angela and Becca have done the tough research for us, making this one of the best writing guidebooks around. (Of course there are more great guidebooks in their Thesauri collection!) This book covers the power of emotion, writing authentic emotion, using dialogue to write emotion, subtext, and tackles common problems when writing nonverbal emotion. How something is said takes on different meanings when you look at what the character is doing, or even not doing. Readers want to see the range of emotions characters feel, not just the surface ones. Body language cues and visceral reactions take the story into a deep point of view, and help make the characters compelling enough to spend a few hours with. Authors need to dig deep and write fresh, use fresh techniques for taking characters on their journeys so readers want to go along with them. We don’t want to use clichéd, overused, trite, bland emotions. This book is THE KEY! If you’re not familiar with the first Emotion Thesaurus, here’s a quick breakdown of what each entry contains: • Definition • Notes (ie: the difference between Empathy and Sympathy, to name 2 emotions) • Physical signals and behaviors • Internal sensations • Mental responses • Acute or long-term responses for this emotion • Signs that emotion is being suppressed • May escalate to (links to the emotions that could come next) • May de-escalate to (links to the emotions that could come after the emotion) • Associated power verbs • Writer’s tip See? They did the research for you! As an author, I’m eternally grateful to Angela and Becca for doing the hard work, for continuing to research and write new thesauri that are such important tools to authors.
Anonymous 5 months ago
Well organized, covers many topics, with many offerings for each emotion. I found it helpful dn easy to use.
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Lolafalana More than 1 year ago
When I thought my brain would explode during revisions of my latest novel, I came across this gem. Thank the heavens!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dichotomy6958 More than 1 year ago
How well-rounded are your characters?  Do you default to limiting their reactions to the major 6 or 7 emotions: anger, contempt, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness and surprise?   Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi have put together an excellent resource to help you express a full range of emotions in your story without turning to hackneyed clichés. Can you tell the difference between remorse and shame, worry and unease, or adoration and love?  How can you make sure that all your characters don’t react in the same manner to similar emotional triggers? "The Emotion Thesaurus" outlines 75 different emotions, and break each emotion into seven general categories: Definition Physical Signals Internal Sensations Mental Responses Cues of Acute or Long Term Emotion  May Escalate to some other Emotion Cues of Suppressed Emotion The physical signals, usually the longest sub-list for each emotion, ranges from very subtle  to blatant.  For example,  physical manifestations of contempt  stretch from a down-turned mouth to turning away dismissively; or, even more actively, spitting on an opponent.  These physical signals can easily be used for both first and third person points of view, but are especially beneficial when writing third-person limited, when the narrator doesn't have access to many of the characters’ thoughts or sensations. If your story’s point of view is first person, you will appreciate the sections of internal sensations and mental responses to round out your point of view character’s responses.  And, if the emotional tension isn't resolved immediately, you might want to turn next to the emotions identified that might escalate from the original scene. You can easily add depth to a character long before a conflict is presented by making use of the cues for a suppressed emotion, foreshadowing an upcoming scene. The authors also sprinkle in tips for writers, with reminders or suggestions on how best to present your characters’ emotional states; e.g., “WRITER’S TIP:  To generate friction in dialogue, give the participants opposing goals.  A heightened emotional response is the natural result of not getting what one needs.” "The Emotion Thesaurus" is a book that I plan on reading several times, just for the wealth of information contained therein.  I also anticipate it will be helpful in all stages of my writing:  when plotting an outline, a review of the possible emotions and emotive responses will be helpful in building tension throughout the story arc; during the actual writing of a scene, reviewing the emotion that is the focus of the action will assist in creating a response that rings true without depending on clichés; and during the editing process I plan on relying heavily on Ackerman & Puglisi’s "Emotion Thesaurus" to polish the final manuscript so that my characters’ emotions; good and bad, subtle and intense, are instrumental in bringing them to life for the reader. This is one resource book that I plan on keeping around both in its print version and as an e-book, so that it is always with me wherever I’m writing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TooGoodToBeTrue More than 1 year ago
Terrific reference for writing
Beth_Mac More than 1 year ago
Absolutely essential for every writer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago