Review: The Emotion Thesaurus
I’ve been slowly building a “writer’s library” and I added a new book this week, The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglis. And I’m excited!
I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when I ordered this from Amazon (thanks to my $44 eBook Antitrust Settlement I got it for free). When I opened it, I was overwhelmed by the details included therein.
There are introductory pages with some general writing advice and how to use the thesaurus. Clear, concise and actually very helpful. Then comes the actual thesaurus part. Seventy-five emotional words.
Each individual word has two pages dedicated to it. In each two-page spread there are these subsections:
- Definition – the actual definition of the word (duh)
- Physical Signals (by far the longest subsection) – All the various ways an individual could show the emotion through their face and body language
- Internal Sensations – what someone would feel physically while having the emotion
- Mental Responses – what someone might be thinking during the emotion
- Cues of Acute or Long-Term Excitement – what could happen if the emotion lingers too long
- May Escalate To – each feeling could slide into these other emotions (with page references)
- Cues of Suppressed Emotion – Pent up anger? Unreleased joy? This is what it would look like
- A Writer’s Tip – general tips & tricks for incorporating emotion into writing
Why am I elated by this purchase?
- I’m deeply enamored with the English language. I adore words. And I consistently bring up thesaurus.com to find new words, ones that imbue a scene with deeper meaning. They don’t have to be fancier words, just ones that coax a more emotional response from the reader. This helps with that and so much more.
- I am a writer. Truly, I am an aspiring author. I can’t just write dialog or describe a scene to get the right emotional response from the reader. A reader must feel right along with the character to achieve writing victory. And the writer must accurately describe the emotion, not simply say “Mark was obsessed.” or “Is Mary depressed?” – by their actions, words, and physical appearance a character should show the emotions the writer wants them to have…and the reader to feel.
- There’s real research in here! How many of us catalog all the above items when feeling an emotion? I know I’ve felt elation and gratitude and depression and even rage. But, I didn’t write down that elation was heightened from excitement, that my cheeks flushed, that I didn’t care what others thought while I was in that emotional state. When I was raging, do you think I cataloged how my vision clouded, the pounding in my ears, or the rush of adrenaline I felt? This book lists out all this and more.
- I might be a sociopath. Okay, that’s not true. But, I do write about them. And psychopaths. (There is a difference, people!) And I think this book would actually be a funny thing for one to have on their bookshelf. Imagine a scene where a girlfriend finds a book of emotions on her boyfriend’s shelf. He’s not a writer, an actor, a psychologist or any profession where one might need a better understanding of human emotions. She randomly looks through it and realizes every time he’s shown an extreme emotion, the details came straight from the book – nothing more, nothing less. That might make her wonder, right?
- The writer’s tips are actually helpful! At the end of each entry there is a grey box with an actually helpful writer’s tip. Some remind about overuse of description or naming the emotion because of a lack of confidence the description does a good enough job of explaining. I like this one below as it’s a reminder of why I’m using this book in the first place.
This is one of three thesaurus books the authors have published. They also have a Positive Traits Thesaurus and a Negative Traits Thesaurus – both of which I’ll be adding to my collection after the next payday. For even more guidance from Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglis, check out their website Writers Helping Writers. They have an entire collection of thesauruses beneficial to writers.
Good luck and happy writing!
XO – T.
Update: After my little geek-out because AN AUTHOR OF THE BOOK commented below (seriously, I did a little “OMG!” moment) I went and checked out the resource she recommended, the Emotion Amplifiers PDF. This looks to be another wonderful addition to the library and brilliant add-on to the book. Check out their other writing tools as well – http://writershelpingwriters.net/writing-tools.
Posted on April 5, 2014, in Reviews and tagged Angela Ackerman, Becca Puglis, emotion thesaurus, emotional response, full-length novel, inspiration, reading, Thesaurus, writer toolkit, writing. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.