Review: The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression

I am so grateful that my friend, author Maureen McQuerry, recommended that I buy “The Emotion Thesaurus” by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. As a scientist trying her hand in fiction for the first time, I am finding what a challenge it is to convey creatively and accurately what emotions my characters are experiencing. I realized this morning that I have pulled up the Kindle version of the book a dozen times since I purchased it. For each emotion listed, Ackerman and Puglisi include sections on Definition, Physical Signals, Internal Sensations, Mental Responses, Cues of Acute emotion and Cues of Suppressed Emotions. These entries make it possible to describe the emotion in multiple dimensions, giving the description depth and richness. The book includes a chapter with tips about writing emotions, a writer’s tip at the end of each entry, and a recommended reading list at the end.  The authors also include a link to their blog, The Bookshelf Muse where they offer similar thesauri for Physical Attributes; Character Traits; Weather and Earthly Phenomena;  Color, Textures and Shapes; Settings; and Symbolism.

While the Emotion Thesaurus doesn’t have every emotion I’ve searched for (such as despair, panic or grief) it has a useful variety of emotions. For those emotions that aren’t included specifically, I’ve been able to draw inspiration from related entries.

I definitely recommend this as a resource for anyone trying to ensure the emotions included in their writing are accurate and well-grounded. Thank you, Ms. Ackerman and Ms. Puglisi!

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