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Emotional outlet

The Bookshelf MuseHow many ways can you think of to express your character’s anxiety? His happiness? Her anger?

Does your antagonist always look behind him? Does your hero clench his fists every time? Does your heroine’s mouth flatten over and over?

A traditional thesaurus may not help when you want to describe the actions and reactions of your characters in different ways. What you need is the Emotion Thesaurus, brainchild of The Bookshelf Muse bloggers Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi.

It’s awesome!

Not only do they have lists of ideas for showing a character’s emotion through action, they have thesauri for Settings, Weather, Colors and Textures, and Character Traits.

This is writerly gold.

I've gotten to the point where I just leave the site open in my browser when I'm writing. Bookmark it now and you'll thank me later.

Got any great resources up your fingerless mittens? Please share!

Tell your friends!


  1. Reply


    I went there. You are right. Writerly gold.

    While there I thumbed through and found this– Writers Knowledge Base. . A collation of internet wide “great blog posts on writing, publishing and marketing.”

    With all the information, advice, instruction, inspiration, coaching, tips, variety-of-ways-to-see understand and write stories you would think it would get easier. 🙂

    The show and tell of story telling has become a cottage industry.

    • Reply

      Thanks for the link, Curtis. You’re right, with all that help out there it seems like it should be easier. I guess in the end, it still comes down to us alone at the keyboard.

  2. Reply

    Gwen, thank you so much for mentioning The Bookshelf Muse! I am so happy to hear it helps you with your writing. That’s what we’re all about. 🙂

    have a great week!

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  3. Reply

    The bibliography associated with this site is worth the trip.
    This is a pandora’s box of the psychological accessed through non-verbal gestures. Talk about adding depth to a character. Thank you

  4. Reply

    Hi agree with all you say about the Emotion Thesaurus; it’s a great resource. A couple I would suggest to add are; “Writing for Emotional Impact” by Karl Ilesias – it tells you how to write emotion into your work and although for screenwriters it works equally well for novellist. I love this book.

    And the other one is “The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers” by Christopher Vogler again centred on films but equally valid for novels. This book is criticised as being too simplistic by some and too formulaic but that is it’s strength; it’s great for beginners to really understand story structure and is a great help when writing plots. I think of it as essential reading first then one can progress onto Story by Robert McKee etc to get deep own into scene structure and beats and character curves. Read “The Writer’s Journey” and you will be amazed at how you can suddenly understand how most Hollywood films are structured and how most novels work; I can’t recommend it highly enough.

  5. Reply

    1writethere41am: Thanks for the recommendations. I’m a big fan of Vogler, Hauge, Snyder, and McKee. Each one has brought me to a new level of understanding regarding structure–and other aspects of writing–as has Larry Brooks. Good luck with your own writing! 🙂

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