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4.7 out of 5 stars
The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide To Character Expression
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176 of 180 people found the following review helpful
on May 14, 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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99 of 102 people found the following review helpful
on June 8, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified 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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89 of 94 people found the following review helpful
on May 14, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified 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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120 of 133 people found the following review helpful
on December 15, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified 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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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
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'. By equipping the writer with a variety of physical signs (body language), visceral experiences (the true and unavoidable internal responses) and degrees of response, the authors help writers to bring deeper feelings to the readers of their works. It succeeds in its stated purpose, by the way.
I shall keep this book beside me as I edit in the future, ensuring I create real emotion on the page rather than allow cliché and familiar expression to convey the feelings of my characters.
My thanks to the unknown reviewer and my great thanks to Angela and Becca for a super little reference book that I expect to improve my writing for years to come. I think it's probably redundant for me to say I recommend this book, but, there, I've said it anyway.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on July 26, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I literally bought this book about five minutes ago. I'm in the middle of my next mystery novel and had a scene where my character needed to show how lonely he was feeling and thought I had a way to handle the scene. I remembered seeing this book being recommended recently and how I'd been determined to buy it. Decided to track it down. Got the Kindle version. Opened it up. Looked in the index for lonely. Not there, but loneliness was. Went to the topic. I immediately had dozens of ideas for physical signals, internal sensations, mental responses, cues of acute or long-term loneliness, cues of suppressed loneliness, what loneliness may escalate to, and a tip: "Body movements should never be random. Everything a character does should have a specific intent: to achieve an end, reveal emotion, or to characterize." It took me longer to write this review than it did to get the solution to my dilemma. Worth it? Not a doubt in my mind.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
...or rather, as I clicked "Accept Gift" and downloaded the e-Book. My heart fluttered as I turned the first few pages, recalling the nuggets of wisdom I had read and re-read a dozen times.

"Do you like it?" my wife asked, eyes soft and lips parted slightly.

"Oh yes," I answered hurriedly. "Thank you so much!" My heart skipped a beat as I turned to the first emotion, Adoration.

"Okay, well I've got to get to work," my wife said as I waved at her absently, my eyes fixated on the treasure my computer displayed.

From there, I turned my attention to my own book, where I reviewed the despicable descriptions, dialogues, and the diatribes.

"No," I spoke aloud, and found my mouth dry up and my eyes water as I inhaled the sweet-scented air around me. "I finally have it. It's all right now," I cooed as I began the once-impossible task of revising choppy character monologues and pathetic person-to-person bantering.

This book was my Holy Grail, my Ark of the Covenant, my elixir. And I finally had it in my hands.

"Thank you, Angela and Becca," I whispered as I disappeared into a much brighter world of emotions.
-------------

While most of the above is true (I really did wave my wife off to work while staring at the e-Book), here is my honest, not-so-artistic review. I was thoroughly surprised at the depth of choices the authors provided for expressing bodily cues of emotion, and have enjoyed postulating the different ways to reword their own examples to make them original to my novel-writing.

The introductory chapters "Introduction" and "Techniques for Writing Nonverbal Emotion" were particularly stimulating, if short, and left me wanting more examples to round out the ones they used. The breadth and depth of emotions in the pages to follow are impressive, but since using this Thesaurus I searched for several emotions I've needed help on, but they were not present in this book (though the emotions escape me for a moment, and perhaps were synonyms - like hesitant missing, but reluctant present).

Truly, you have a treasure in your hands (or on your smart device/computer) if you possess The Emotion Thesaurus, and it is well worth the money in my opinion.

Thanks for such an enlightening work--I will use it readily in the months to come as I complete and revise my first novel.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
The Emotion Thesaurus is a clever idea that, while not essential, does save you the trouble of researching body language and internal cues for a wide variety of emotions. This can be a valuable time-saving tool, and it's nice having them all in one place when you need them. If it can help you (either directly, or through inspiration), then it has done its job.

That said, I do have a few criticisms: Not every possible emotion is covered, and a helpful section on emotional amplifiers appears to have been cut from the book and used as a "bonus free web content" download on the authors's site. I would have much preferred those amplifiers to have been included in the actual book and the extra pages would have helped justify the retail price for such a low page count and so much white space, along with related articles on male vs. female stress responses and flirting cues from their website. Hopefully, a revised second edition will include all these, plus missing emotions like defiance. To me, this is a 3.5 star book in its current form, but your mileage may vary. Had the extra material been included, I could see my rating going up to a solid 4-5 stars.

Since the "Look Inside" preview no longer lets you view any of the emotions (just the covers, introduction, and table of contents), you'll need to visit the authors's website to get a true feel for what you're buying. There are abbreviated listings for the emotion entries available on the site as well, covering maybe 20-25% of what you would find in their full listings from the Emotion Thesaurus. Their website is also loaded with free thesauri for body parts, locations (sci-fi, fantasy, and mundane), weather, colors, symbols, etc. It's well worth checking out.

In my recent communications regarding confusion over the book's sale price ending (at the time of this review, it's only a 5% off discount instead of the five dollars off it was listed at last week), co-author Rebecca handled my questions promptly and perfectly, a model of how any author should meet criticism--with honey, not vinegar. I've just gotten my local library system to order three copies as a result.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I suppose I could say that it wasn't what I expected. I expected a book thick with entries that would give suggestions on other ways to describe things. It turned out to be the previous sentence with the words "I expected" and "thick" removed. The thesaurus only has 75 entries. I will admit that most of the time you can narrow down feelings or emotion to one that is similar in the 75 entry list, but they are not exact. Take for example "infatuation", which isn't on the list. A similar word would be "desire", but the problem is that desire and infatuation are actually different because desire is a much stronger emotion.

That said, I find it helpful for the ways that Ms. Puglisi has laid out the various ways you can describe emotion: physical, internal, mental, acute/long-term, escalation and suppressed. That is a very clever way of laying out emotion in descriptive writing. For that reason, I have to still recommend it. It will be beneficial, even in its limited state.

I also think it's worthy of the purchase just to learn what it is that she is doing. You can put her method to use with all kinds of additional emotion. Thinking about it before you write is the key.

Finally, she also offers some great tips on non-verbal emotion, which will help you in creating your own list.

All in all, it is worth its purchase, I just wish it had a bit more.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 1, 2012
Format: Paperback
I started using this book as soon as it arrived. Instead of spending fifteen minutes coming up with some body language, I could run through the contents where the emotions are listed alphabetically and go to that page then decide what the point of view character would be feeling (internal sensations) or what someone else would be seeing (visual). I thought it might have photographs, but those aren't necessary. The authors have gone the extra step that photographs would have forced: describing the expression.

It's in a large format so that it's easier to hold flat then some bindings.

A wonderful, wonderful resource.
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