#ROW80 Writer’s Emotional Thesaurus

I’m bogged down in self-editing this week. This is the first real opportunity for me to develop an editing process – as against a writing process, and it’s taking me a little time to come up with a schedule and pattern that works for me.

Additionally, I’m also confusing myself by looking into the many opportunities for publishing, trying to decide indie versus submitting to a local or international small press or self-publishing website, how on earth to afford a professional editor, blah blah blah.

But one of the things I got out of this – my editing, that is – is the fantastic reference tool that is –

Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi’s The Emotion Thesaurus.

Now, I am of two minds to the whole show vs tell debate. If you look it up on places like the Absolute Write Water Cooler where there are several threads with new writers asking for explanations and examples, you get into a whole mess of opinions, where authorative voices debate amongst each other whether a passage is show or really tell.

My opinion on it is that there are places within a scene that should be told, not shown, that there is room for both in writing. Afterall, when I think about reading I think I want to be told a story, not shown it – that’s a movie. However, I get that I need to be able to visualise the characters and scene, and as a writer I need to be able to accomplish that a good percentage of the time for my readers.

It’s the process of doing so, in editing, that really needs a helping hand. How many times can I use the action ‘frown’ without frowning myself? Apparently, frowning is a pet showing for me, as is stiffened shoulders, licking lips, and hot cheeks.

I’ve long been a fan of Ackerman and Puglisi’s website – The Bookshelf Muse, where you will find more thesauruses being collected  for the writer – including a Character trait thesaurus. Importantly, links to all the outlets for The Emotion Thesaurus can be found there also, and you can purchase a PDF version directly from the site.

Going to their site also allows you to obtain a free download of The Emotion Amplifiers – a companion to the book.

The Emotion Thesaurus covers 75 emotions, listed A-Z, and provides external and internal signs for the emotion, cues for a suppressed emotion, and appropriate mental responses.  Instead of my characters always frowning now, they have a whole handle on clothes tugging, eye glancing, and yes – a few reddened cheeks and temples too.

The book is a must-have reference for me as I go through my self-editing. I have had it on my kindle apps for some time now, which also allows it to be on multiple devices – I can reference the book on my desktop an iPAD as I need it. I can see that having the book in print form would be even easier as I work through the WIP (but Amazon’s 4-6 week delivery times to Australia is something that is delving a death-knell to print purchases over here, perhaps something to be aware of as the industry turns more and more international).

Links to get your book – and you really should!

The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character ExpressionThe Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Thoroughly recommended as a reference tool for writers looking for new ways to show rather than tell the story. I have this open while self-editing.

View all my reviews

7 thoughts on “#ROW80 Writer’s Emotional Thesaurus

  1. I love your list of links to get your books from! I’m a fan of them all! Very interesting philosophy book, do you also like how it’s written? Or is it more dry of a craft book?

    1. Jess. It’s written in list form, very concisely. Look the emotion up, and there will be a quick list of body cues, internal cues etc for a character experiencing that emotion. A very quick reference.

  2. I love The Emotional Thesaurus! I have the Kindle app open on my desktop, and this book is loaded. So, when I get really stuck, I flip over there for ideas. Excellent reference! Thanks for the tip about the companion to the book.

  3. Hunter, what a great resource. Thank you very much for sharing it. I know counsellors who could also use that book for getting people to identify the mess of emotions in their heads.

    Editing is not my favourite part of the process, but I like your approach which gives it focus. Good luck with your work and keep going!

    Cheers, Cate (ROW80)

    1. Thanks Cate. I am now reading your blog, and thanks to some links on it, have also discovered Deborah Riley-Magnus. Both of you are offering some great tips for new Indie writers like me. Thanks for sharing.

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