The new EMOTION THESAURUS can help you grip readers.

Emotion is really important in writing fiction; it powers characters and scenes, is at the heart of every story that matters, and is key to getting your readers to feel and to care about your characters. So writing emotion well is really important, and THE EMOTION THESAURUS can help you with that.

I loved THE EMOTION THESAURUS, first edition – but the second edition is even better. It has so many more emotions and so many more valuable tips on technique – 130 expanded entries in total. The first edition covered 75 emotion entries; this new edition covers 130 emotions (and the body language cues, thoughts, and physical responses), as well as connections between the emotions. If you’re a writer, this is a book you will want to have on your bookshelf or next to you while you edit.

For instance, in a new manuscript I’m working on I was in a scene where my character is panicking. I know how I feel when I panic, but I wanted to make sure that some of it not only matched, but also write the panic slightly differently for this character than another in the same book. Panic isn’t addressed in the first edition, so I was happy to see it was in the second edition. And I was even more happy to see that the body language I’d written for my panicking character not only fit, but also moved into terror, which I’d written intuitively.

On each spread for an emotion, Ackerman and Puglisi not only list the body language someone might show for that emotion, but also the internal sensations, mental responses, acute or long-term responses that might happen if you keep experiencing that emotion at that level, signs the emotion is being suppressed, and–one of the most useful sections–what that emotion may escalate to (panic to hysteria, paranoia, or terror) and the corresponding pages, or deescalate to (panic to anxiety, dread, fear, sadness, unease, and worry). The thesaurus works to make you think about the ways you react when you feel something, how your character might respond (some people suppress emotion, others express it easily), and add to what is there in the thesaurus, making it your own.

On every emotion spread there are short, helpful writer’s tips; for Panic, it was: “To dig deeper into a character, think about shame. What makes them feel this painful emotion? Drill down to important backstory to understand what happened, and then make them face their shame on the page.”

Want to delve more into the writing technique of using emotion? THE EMOTION THESAURUS has that, too. There are some great articles in the beginning of the book, including on how to use dialogue to write emotion; using subtext; additional ideas for brainstorming emotion; and of course how to use THE EMOTION THESAURUS.

THE EMOTION THESAURUS, 2nd edition, is a truly useful tool for writers, prompting us to think and write more deeply about emotion, and keep our readers reading. I already had the first edition, but I bought the second edition as soon as it came out. I think I write emotions well, but I always want to make my writing better, and be encouraged to think more about how to make my writing MINE. Highly recommended!

You can find it on and

About Cheryl Rainfield

I write the books I needed and couldn't find as a teen. I write teen fiction--paranormal fantasy and gritty realistic fiction. I'm the author of SCARS (WestSide Books, 2010) #1 ALA QuickPicks, and Governor General Literary Award Finalist, HUNTED (WestSide Books, Oct 2011), STAINED (Harcourt, 2013), The Last Dragon (HIP Books, Sept 2009), and Walking Both Sides (HIP Books, 2011). I also enjoy drawing, surfing the web, connecting with people I like, doing crafts, and being with my dog.
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1 Response to The new EMOTION THESAURUS can help you grip readers.

  1. Cheryl, I am so glad this book will be beside you as you draft and edit. That gives me such joy, knowing its there with you. Thank you so very much for getting the book and this wonderful review! Please give Petal a huge squish for me! <3


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