The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

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Novels are emotion-delivery vehicles. We read non-fiction for information, but novels are all about going on an emotional journey with the characters. As writers, we can move readers to laughter or tears, limited only by our storytelling skills.

Humans are great at decoding the emotions of others by reading their facial expressions and body language. That’s what makes movies so powerful. Novelists have a tougher time. It’s one thing to tell a reader how your hero feels. It’s quite another to make them feel it right along with him. It’s the old show-don’t-tell advice, but how do you do that?

THE EMOTION THESAURUS offers a list of seventy-five primary emotions such as anger, dread, relief, shame and satisfaction. Each entry gives clues about how to express the emotion with physical signals, mental responses, and internal sensation. So if your character is feeling something, what might she do or think? What might her physical reaction be?

THE EMOTION THESAURUS isn’t a checklist, allowing lazy writers to drop appropriate emotions onto their characters willy-nilly. Using this book takes care and thought. You must reword the descriptors to match the voice and tone of the characters while staying true to the emotions of the moment. This book won’t do the work for you. In fact, it might make your work harder by forcing you to look beyond your comfortable, clichéd expressions.

I’m a huge fan of practical writing tools. Airy theory is nice, but how-to books need to get right down into the trenches with me to be of any use. THE EMOTION THESAURUS is one of those necessary reference guides that not only tells me what to do, but shows me exactly how.

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THE EMOTION THESAURUS can be found here.

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Rating: 5 stars

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Pie Slices: 8 slices craft

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This book is best for: beginning to intermediate writers

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I recommend this book

7 thoughts on “The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

  1. Thank you for such a wonderful review of our book, Alex. I love that you get that this book isn’t meant to be a copy/paste tool, but is something to inspire writers to think beyond the cliché and come up with that perfect phrase for their character and their story. Thanks again for spreading the word!

  2. Thanks for your website. I’m embarrassed at how many of these books I have paid for and studied without any way of evaluating their quality.

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