Writing Book Spotlight: The Emotion Thesaurus
‘Show don’t tell’ is probably one of the most espoused rules of writing. You’re taught early on that you should never say ‘she was angry’ but should find a way to show it through the character’s actions.
It can be a tricky one. Reading emotional cues is often difficult in real life, when you have a whole host of information to go from. When you’re trying to be spare in your writing, not spending four paragraphs describing the minutiae of your character’s reaction, choosing the right details is key.
This is where The Emotion Thesaurus comes in. Ackerman and Puglisi detail 75 different emotions and the reactions that typify them. From the physical signs to the internal ones, the mental responses and the long-term effects of experiencing the emotion, each entry provides loads of detail.
There are links between the articles helping you to connect emotions together. Envy may escalate to Resentment, for example, Desperation to Terror. Each page also comes with a Writer’s Tip to help you convey emotion naturally.
The team behind the Emotion Thesaurus have also produced a Negative and Positive trait thesaurus, as well as running the extremely helpful Writer’s Helping Writers website. I’m hoping they collect their current ‘Skills and Traits’ series into a thesaurus. I would buy that one for sure.
The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression
Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi