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Sunday, July 22, 2012


The Emotion Thesaurus – Review and Giveaway

As I rewrote chapter 1 of my novel, all seemed well. My character’s voice comes through strong and I’d built up the tension. But as I worked through following chapters, I found trouble.

Every time he got in a tight situation, my main character chewed on his lip. Every. Time. When he was frustrated, he’d heave a great sigh. By the climax, he’d be lighted-headed and lipless unless I did something about it.

Fortunately, writing partners Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi have created the The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression for times just like this. The listing of 75 emotions ranges from adoration and anxiety to somberness and terror.

Before reviewing it, I decided to test the thesaurus. I’d rewrite one chapter to make sure my emotional details were varied but accurate at the same time.

The first emotion that I looked up was Excitement. Each entry includes a definition of the emotion (the state of being energized or stimulated and provoked to act). That sounded right but my character was standing like a lump waiting for someone to catch up. The listing included almost a full page of physical responses. Soon I had my character fidgeting as he waited—a response that fit his personality and was more accurate than what I had previously written.

Because this part of the story was moving at a fast pace, I didn’t include internal sensations or emotional responses, but those are part of the listing as well. If my character was trying to look bored instead of excited, I might have focused on an internal response or the choices for suppressed emotion.

Then I saw the Writer’s Tip and laughed. “If you’re stuck on how to show an emotion, form a strong image of the scene in your mind. Let the scene unfold, and watch the character to see how they move and behave.”

If I’d done that, I wouldn’t have needed a cue to remind me that my character, a nine-year-old who vibrates with energy, wouldn’t stand still while he was waiting.

That’s exactly what makes this book a perfect reference. Scan through the various responses and you will find something that makes you think “Of course, that is exactly how my character would act.”

Can’t find the emotion you need to describe? Try again. At one point I tried to look up Enthusiasm which isn’t listed. Why not call it Excitement which is just as accurate? It isn’t my names for the emotions that need to be varied, but my character’s reactions.

Get a copy of this reference in time to rewrite your next fiction project. Your character may be able to release her clenched jaw and simply thrust the paperwork at someone in frustration instead. She’ll be reacting in a greater variety of ways and you’ll have some hints for how to make her emotions more obvious.

Author Sue Bradford Edwards blogs at One Writer's Journey.



We also have a giveaway from the authors, Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi! And after that fabulous review, I'm sure you'll want to win a copy for your writer's reference library. Just enter the Rafflecopter form below for a chance to win a paperback copy of The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression (ARV $14.99), or a e-copy—reader's choice! The contest is open to US and Canada. If you have problems using Rafflecopter, be sure you are running the latest version of your web browser and have javascript updated.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Winner will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be picked. By entering you agree to the rules of the contest. Good luck!

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Anonymous Shelley Munro said...

I have this book already, and I have to agree that it's a very handy book to have in the bookshelf.

2:02 AM  
Blogger Sioux Roslawski said...


This sounds like a wonderful resource--one that I'd never heard of until reading your post, and one which I'm sure my students would appreciate.

There are times that I head to the mirror when I'm working on a writing piece. Why? Well, when I am writing about a character's physical reaction, I act it out, and look at what my shoulders are doing...what happens with the facial muscles around my mouth...what are my eyebrows doing...and so on.

You provided some great reminders in your post, Sue. When we write a moment in a story, it should be as vivid as a scene on the movie screen.

2:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now that is an awesome prize. Totally in!

4:12 AM  
Blogger hkhagan said...

I just added this book to my wish list. I'm working on a ya fantasy novel.

4:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm working on a novel about a mother who is dying and the drama that entails while she tries to get her family affairs in order.

6:04 AM  
Blogger Barbara Barth said...

Couldn't wait - bought my copy on Kindle. Great idea. Thanks!

6:16 AM  
Blogger Dawn Malone said...

I'm working on revisions to a contemporary MG right now. I love the idea of this book; could be VERY useful! Thanks for the giveaway!

6:54 AM  
Blogger Muddy said...

This sounds like it's exactly what I need! If I don't win, I'm going to buy it. Thanks for the review!

7:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How cool that I JUST discovered their blog and this resource JUST YESTERDAY and added it to my Kindle wishlist. A sign I might win the giveaway? Either way, I will get my hands on this book.

8:42 AM  
Anonymous KCLAnderson (Karen) said...

Although I don't write fiction, I think would be a fantastic resource!

8:50 AM  
Blogger Margay Leah Justice said...

I'm working on too many things! A couple of paranormal romances, some contemporaries, one with romantic suspense, even a YA series!

9:27 AM  
Blogger Ruth J. Hartman said...

This book sounds like a writer's best friend!

9:28 AM  
Blogger Christina Mercer said...

I would love to get this resource! I'm writing my 3rd Young Adult fantasy.

9:49 AM  
Blogger Amber Polo said...

I gave my copy to a friend, I'd love to have my own.

10:45 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I am working on a short story.

10:51 AM  
Anonymous Ann Marquette said...

Would love to have this book in my Library. Finishing book 2 of the Little One series.
Thank you.

11:16 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

I have enjoyed referring to the sampler of emotions on Angela's blog. The book sounds fabulous!

11:34 AM  
Blogger Joy Keeney said...

Great giveaway I hear it's a great thing to have. Currently I'm working on a paranormal story as well as a Bigfoot piece for an upcoming contest.

11:44 AM  
Anonymous Ruth Martin said...

Where has this book been for my earlier writings? This sounds fabulous. I'm so glad to read this review and excited about the giveaway. I'm a regular blogger for my own blog and several others so write weekly.

11:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This sounds like a really great resource! I can't wait to get a copy. I will also promote it to my readers in my newsletter and on my blog.

12:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This sounds like a perfect reference book for a novelist.

12:33 PM  
Blogger GSMarlene said...

This sounds awesome, if i don't win, I'll cry then have to go buy it!

4:05 PM  
Blogger Rosi said...

It looks like a terrific book!

4:46 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

As writers I think many of us tend to get into word ruts, repeating words and phrases. What a wonderful tool this is!

5:04 PM  
Blogger Angela Ackerman said...

Becca and I are so pleased that The Emotion Thesaurus helped to revamp your first chapter, Sue! Thanks so much for test driving the ET and for sharing how it went with Muffin readers.

Looking forward to seeing who wins The Emotion Thesaurus! Hope everyone is having a great weekend! :)

Angela Ackerman

7:14 PM  
Blogger BECKY said...

I read about this book on more than one blog post before it came out, and I'd love to have a print copy! I'm definitely entering in the Rafflecopter. Thanks!

7:22 PM  
Blogger Krispy said...

Sounds like a great reference book! Thanks for this giveaway. I'm currently working on my Camp NaNoWriMo project - just plotting, not writing yet.

8:59 PM  
Blogger Amanda Stephan said...

ARGH! This is PERFECT timing! I'm in the beginning to middle stages of doing my first self edit. This book sounds awesome and like something I totally need. His heart is about to beat out of his chest... ;)

6:03 AM  
Blogger PatriciaW said...

Oh my gosh! Exactly what I was looking for last week. I scoured blog posts and searched my blog subscriptions through Google Reader, looking for something that would help me to vary my characters' physical gestures to depict emotional response. Too much smiling, nodding, head shaking... You know how it is. I've got to get a copy of this book.

9:59 AM  
Blogger Jennifer C. said...

This book sounds very interesting and something that I need to add to my shelf.

10:07 AM  
Blogger DonnaD said...

Editing my second novel, with two in the pipeline. This book sounds perfect!

10:16 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I love their website with the character, setting, weather and emotion thesaurus details. So helpful!

I am currently working on two projects: the third book in the Between series, and a new YA contemporary novel.

Thanks for the giveaway. Fingers crossed that I win!


2:02 PM  
Blogger Carl Scott said...

A little of this, a little of that. Whichever one the muse selects, I pick up.

3:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like Sioux, I act things out. I look for videos. I check out Google Images. This took will be at the top of my list where emotions are concerned.

8:49 PM  
Blogger Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Becca and Angela are awesome. They have a super blog that is full of writing tips...

9:03 PM  
Blogger Tiffany said...

I'm currently working on a self-help book called 'Unconventional Methods of Book Promotion and Networking.' The title is pretty explanatory. I'll be using Indiegogo to raise funds to publish and promote the book. I'm also a fiction writer, but I won't be concentrating on fiction until later this year.

12:55 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Nolan said...

I'm working on completing a novel I started seven years ago. Back then, I put it in a drawer, forgot about it and wrote other things. Now it is being rewritten.

3:38 PM  
Blogger RAD - Dot Painter said...

Tears stream down my face as I think about the book in my hands. I hold it close to my chest, hoping beyond hope that the pages will help ease my pain. I shudder at the thought of giving it up, but I need my freedom. :) I'd like to win the book.

7:45 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I would LOVE this. I have a pretty good vocabulary for character expression, but I get stuck in ruts!

4:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This could be incredibly useful I am sure. I drop into habits way to regularly.

5:06 PM  
Anonymous Virginia B. said...

Books like this make me happy. I would love to add it to my collection.

7:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My daughter sent me the link to this with the comment that if we don't win it we might just have to get a copy on our own. It sounds like the perfect tool for any writer, thanks for bringing it to our attention. I look forward to exploring the rest of your blog. Thanks.

7:49 AM  
Anonymous Yijuan said...

I've been reading thebookshelfmuse's blog for quite some time already. It's an excellent reference and it never fails to give me inspiration/help in writing. Now that I've discovered this blog, I think I'd visiting here a lot more too! Thanks for hosting this giveaway~

8:52 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

The Bookshelf Muse has always been very helpful, especially during NaNoWriMo. Thanks for the giveaway!

I'm working on a Fractured Fairy Tale as well as a Regency Novella.

9:28 AM  
Blogger Benita said...

I'm working on poems.


6:59 PM  
Blogger Danyale N. said...

I'm working on a western fiction book

bloggergiveaways at centurylink dot net

5:49 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I'm editing the first draft of my second novel.


12:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Family Christmas Newsletter. Seriously.

1:46 PM  
Blogger Melissa Shirley said...

I want to write a Children's book and have been but have not finished yet.

3:51 PM  
Anonymous Celia Fisher said...

I'm working on a historical fiction novel :)

8:16 PM  
Blogger cman said...

Nothing currently.

9:59 PM  
Blogger Trisha McKee said...

I'm currently working on the trials of a single father raising his daughter after her start in life was a rough one.

tridingermckee at gmail dot com

3:29 AM  
Blogger daveshir2005 said...

I am working on something looseley based on my life. Nobody ever believes the stories I have to tell

fb/ shirley greenawalt zolenski

7:46 PM  
Blogger WOW! said...

Hi Everyone!

Thank you so much for your entries and comments. The response has been fantastic. We held a random drawing via Rafflecopter and the winner is... Tiffany T. Cole!

Congratulations, Tiffany! You won a copy of The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression. We will send you an email requesting your mailing address. It will be coming from editors[at]

For everyone else: If you didn't win, definitely consider adding this excellent resource to your bookshelf, if you haven't already. Also, stay tuned for more writerly giveaways here on The Muffin. Thanks for your participation.

Happy writing! :)

11:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been using The Emotion Thesuarus for about a month now, and I can already see a profound improvement in the variety of emotions my characters are able to show. I'm going to have to go back to earlier chapters (those I wrote before I owned the book) and re-write emotional responses, using this fantastic tool. Otherwise, readers will note the significant difference!

7:54 PM  

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