Digging deep into emotions


Take a look at the people around you.  Some of them are wide open, others keep to themselves.  Some are loud, some quiet and reserved.  Human beings react to situations in very different ways.  That’s what authors want to do with their characters, and it’s not always easy to write what you want them to feel/think/say/do.

That’s where the Emotion Thesaurus 2nd Edition comes into play.  Yes, the brilliant Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi are back with an expanded edition of their first book.  There are 55 new emotions to help authors make their characters authentic and real, and to get readers to empathize with them, and want to keep turning those pages, and buying those books.  With the new additions, it brings a total of 130 emotions to refer to.

But it’s not just 55 new emotions – this book really digs deep into writing those stories.  Angela and Becca have done the tough research for us, making this one of the best writing guidebooks around.  (Of course there are more great guidebooks in their Thesauri collection!)

This book covers the power of emotion, writing authentic emotion, using dialogue to write emotion, subtext, and tackles common problems when writing nonverbal emotion.  How something is said takes on different meanings when you look at what the character is doing, or even not doing.  Readers want to see the range of emotions characters feel, not just the surface ones.  Body language cues and visceral reactions take the story into a deep point of view, and help make the characters compelling enough to spend a few hours with.

Authors need to dig deep and write fresh, use fresh techniques for taking characters on their journeys so readers want to go along with them.  We don’t want to use clichéd, overused, trite, bland emotions. This book is THE KEY! 

If you’re not familiar with the first Emotion Thesaurus, here’s a quick breakdown of what each entry contains:

  • Definition
  • Notes (ie: the difference between Empathy and Sympathy, to name 2 emotions)
  • Physical signals and behaviors
  • Internal sensations
  • Mental responses
  • Acute or long-term responses for this emotion
  • Signs that emotion is being suppressed
  • May escalate to (links to the emotions that could come next)
  • May de-escalate to (links to the emotions that could come after the emotion)
  • Associated power verbs
  • Writer’s tip

See?  They did the research for you!

While doing revisions for my latest book, I lost my mother.  I had to get revisions done, but it was hard when everything was colored by sadness.  So I pulled out the first Emotion Thesaurus to give me ideas to keep writing a story where two people fall in love. 

This expanded version is fabulous because now, should I ever need to, I can refer to this book for how to write Schadenfreude (malicious enjoyment from the suffering or unhappiness of others).  Not a word used every day, is it?

As an author, I’m eternally grateful to Angela and Becca for doing the hard work, for continuing to research and write new thesauri that are such important tools to authors. 


  1. What an incredible review–thank you so much, Allison! WOW! I am so glad you enjoyed the book and it will help you moving forward. 🙂

    And deepest condolences about your mom. It’s very hard to lose anyone, but especially a parent. It’s one of the most difficult things we’ll face as we grow older, I think. HUGS to you. <3

    • It truly is a fantastic book – all of them are! Congrats on the new release!
      And thank you for the kind words. Hugs back to you!

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