Friday, March 27, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression

Every author needs some help from time to time.

For me, I needed a hand on improving how I portray emotions in my writing. Saying, "she seemed angry," or "He smiled happily," had gotten old, trite, and a bit of a handicap. Recently on Goodreads, I'd seen some of my writer friends reading The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi, and after investigating it a bit, I decided this was a book I needed on my bookshelf.

I was far from wrong. From the moment it arrived on my doorstep (I ordered a hard copy because I prefer that for my reference books,) it hasn't been far away when I've been writing, and its resources were vital in the final edits for the book I published just last week.

The first three sections teach you why you need to balance emotions and be creative in using them in your scenes, how to avoid melodrama (unless it's desired,) avoiding clich├ęs, and tips on using the thesaurus. The vast majority of the remainder of the book takes you alphabetically through a variety of emotions--from adoration, defeat, and envy, to insecurity, relief, and worry. Every entry has six sections: a definition, physical signals, internal sensations (very helpful for your 1st person narrative/tight 3rd person,) mental responses, cues for acute or long-term emotion, cues for suppressed emotion. One or two have a seventh section to describe reactions and how they're different in men.

The authors urge you to look beyond just their book and how people you observe demonstrate various emotions, and many of their entries are from their own observations.

I really feel this book has been very helpful in not only my own understanding of those around me, but in my writing. As writers, we tend to live somewhat solitary lives, and if you're like me, you have weeks where you spend more time with your characters than with your spouse, so observing how others express emotion can sometimes become a bit of a foreign concept. This book can definitely act as a bridge, and become a quick reference guide when you're stumped on how your characters should act.

The Emotion Thesaurus is available through Amazon Kindle for $4.99, and as a paperback for $11.49.


Liberty Speidel has been a voracious reader since reading her first Nancy Drew book. But she was telling stories long before then with her figurines from Disney's Rescue Rangers. When she's not writing, you may find her gardening, baking, crocheting, or hiking. A lifelong Kansan, she now resides in the Kansas City metro area with her husband, children, and chocolate Labrador where she could rival Captain Jean Luc Picard in consumption of Earl Grey tea. She is the author of Emergence , Retaliation, and Capitulation, novellas and novels in her series featuring superhuman and police detective Darby Shaw.

She blogs sporadically at
Add to Technorati Favorites
Bookmark and Share


  1. I love my copy. It really does come in handy when you can't picture the reaction you want for the emotion you're trying to portray. I have the rest of the books in this series on my wish list.

  2. I just bought a copy for my Kindle.