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The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide To Character Expression Paperback – May 6, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


One of the challenges a fiction writer faces, especially when prolific, is coming up with fresh ways to describe emotions. This handy compendium fills that need. It is both a reference and a brainstorming tool, and one of the resources I'll be turning to most often as I write my own books. - James Scott Bell, bestselling author of Deceived and Plot & Structure

About the Author

Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi are the creators of the award winning online resource for writers, The Bookshelf Muse. Members of SCBWI, both authors write in the Middle Grade and Young Adult genres.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 172 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; unknown edition (May 6, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1475004958
  • ISBN-13: 978-1475004953
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.4 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (980 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,720 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

196 of 202 people found the following review helpful By Sanjay Deshmukh on May 13, 2012
Format: Paperback
We know by now the "Show, Don't Tell" idiom professed by almost every how-to book on writing fiction. Where we stumble is in the `showing' of emotions, especially showing the same emotion in varying degrees of intensity, and often end-up writing clichés. The Emotion Thesaurus breaks new ground by providing alternatives to body language cues, thoughts and visceral reactions. Unlike a word thesaurus that we open at a specific page to find alternatives for a word, this book can be read in its entirety not just to derive inspiration, but also to improve your storehouse of `emotion descriptions'. But if all this information is available free on the web, why buy the book? I bought it because I prefer to shut down my internet connection while I write and edit, to prevent distractions and the book comes in handy. Also for those times late in the night when I'd rather reach for this book than boot up the laptop and fire up the modem.
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107 of 110 people found the following review helpful By Brian Kittrell, author on June 8, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
*Note (7/13/12): I located the linked navigation a while back, and it's actually very well done. Excellent. Forgot to update the review.

I'm rounding up because my only complaint is that I couldn't find a linked list/index to go from one entry to the next, back, or otherwise. I am going to search around the book to see if it does indeed exist and to see if it merely escaped me on my first pass. I'll knock off half a star for that, but I'm going to round up because this truly is a wonderful writing aid. (I'll amend my review if I locate it or if someone points it out.)

A wide variety of emotions are given in this book, each of the entries supplying information on the overall effects each emotional state has on people, from what others might notice or see to what a person might feel inside. Thus, it's a wonderful tool for examples in any point of view and wonderfully supports the modern, accepted style: third person limited. However, this tool could just as easily be used for any style or point of view.

In my opinion, this guide could be useful to both new and experienced writers of fiction. For the former, this is an amazing resource for learning how to write convincing characters and see how emotions translate into writing (then, hopefully, provoking sympathy, empathy, or whatever feeling you wish to evoke in the reader). For the latter, I would say that this can easily be a go-to reference for experienced writers to shake things up a bit and to avoid the long hours of research it would require to do the legwork already done in this guide. I've loaded this book onto my Kindle, and it's ready to go, along with my thesaurus, dictionary, and other reference material. This is one book that will be permanently loaded onto my device.
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94 of 99 people found the following review helpful By Jon W. Turner on May 14, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The best 5 bucks a writer could spend. I could see the emotions in playing out in my head, but lacked the words. Just skimming the book, I can and will take my writing from "Good" to "Amazing" Now I finally understand Show don't Tell your reader. Even my daughter was impressed with the book. I would recommend this book to new writer like me and even the seasoned writers. I don't think you will be disappointed.
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50 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Stuart Aken on August 22, 2012
Format: Paperback
I promised my wonderful and long-suffering wife that I wouldn't buy any more book until I'd read everything on our shelves. Now, here I am buying a new thesaurus after reading only 31 of the original 188 titles awaiting my attention. Why? Well a friend (she's a friend, and she made me break a promise to my wife?) passed on a review of this book. I'm afraid I can't now find the link to that review, but thanks to whoever it was! It was the review that persuaded me to bend my knee and ask my lovely other half to bend the rules. Being the woman she is, she agreed, of course.
So, what's this reference work like?
Well, surprisingly, it's in the form of a thesaurus: novel, eh? There's a short introductory section that provides a brief overview of emotion and its place in writing. A short article on avoiding common problems in conveying nonverbal emotion follows. And a short explanatory piece then explains how best to use the thesaurus. After these pieces come the listings.
Now, I don't know about you, but perhaps because I'm a man and therefore emotionally challenged, I'd have found it difficult to come up with a list of more than ten emotions. So it was something of a surprise to discover 75, yes seventy five, listed here. For each of these, the authors have provided a definition of the emotion, a list of physical signals, the internal sensations experienced, the mental responses felt, cues of acute or long-term encounters with and cues of suppressed experience of the emotion. The final piece on each is a short writer's tip.
The book sets out to enable writers to convey emotion in the time-honoured fashion of `showing' rather than the easier and less satisfying `telling'.
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134 of 154 people found the following review helpful By Junmo K. on December 15, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I originally purchased this book for an 300-level Advanced Composition course as part of a review assignment on writing guides and manuals. Initially, since Amazon listed the book among the Top Ten New and Popular under Writing, Research, and Publishing guides, I assumed it might be helpful.

This book is almost exactly as should be expected of a thesaurus. There are 75 emotions that the book focuses on with each being separated into five distinct categories.

-Physical Signals
-Internal Sensations
-Mental Responses
-Cues of Acute or Long-term [Emotion]
-Cues of Suppressed [Emotion]

At the bottom of each entry, the authors have also included a "Writer's Tip" section which briefly suggests some useful tips regarding how to convey the emotion.

Each of the categories list possible alternatives to the basic emotion. But, you should note that some entries lack alternative emotions in comparison to those more extensively covered. For example, DOUBT has an entire page dedicated to the PHYSICAL SIGNALS while only providing one expression for INTERNAL SENSATIONS. This is compared to the eleven that can be found for FEAR. I also wonder why some combinations were left out such as the combination of FEAR AND DOUBT.

In contrast to the glowing reviews by others, the helpfulness of this books should be taken with caution. It may be useful to those who are new to writing or are in the beginning stages of their novel writing careers. However, if you are slightly more experienced and have taken a introductory composition course, the value of this book quickly diminishes. Those of you looking for a more in-depth analysis and explanation into how to use various emotions, this book may come up a little sparse. Thus, this book should be used as a supplement but definitively should not be used to supplant manuals or writing guidebooks.
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