Recently, an author friend of mine, Olivia Berrier, recommended I get The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. I followed her advice. At that time, I also purchased The Emotional Wound Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Psychological Trauma by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi.
Both books help writers to find different ways of showing, rather than telling, how the character feels.
The front of the book has a section titled “Writing Nonverbal Emotions: Avoiding Common Problems.” The main portion of the book is the emotions thesaurus.
Each emotion spans two pages of the book and has the following sections:
- Definition: a brief explanation of what the emotion is
- Physical Signals: a list of physical manifestations of or reactions to the emotion
- Internal Sensations: a list of internal manifestations of or reactions to the emotion
- Mental Responses: a list of mental reactions to the emotion
- Cues of Acute or Long-term Emotion: a list of different ways people react to feeling that emotion intensely or for an extended period of time
- May Escalate To: the emotion(s) to which the featured emotion often morphs or intensifies
- Cues of Suppressed Emotion: physical signals, internal sensations, or mental responses to trying to hide or hold in the featured emotion
- Writer’s Tip: advice about writing emotions
At the front of the book are several article like entries. These offer advice about caring for oneself as a writer, defining what an emotional wound is, and raising awareness to how to develop and write about a character’s emotional wound.
In the thesaurus section of the book, the types of traumas that cause emotional wounds are broken into seven categories: Crime and Victimization, Disabilities and Disfigurements, Failures and Mistakes, Injustice and Hardship, Misplaced Trust and Betrayals, Specific Childhood Wounds, and Traumatic Events. Beneath each category are more specific events or situations. For example, two of the more specific situations listed under “Misplaced Trust and Betrayals” are “A Sibling’s Betrayal” and “A Toxic Relationship.”
Each event or situation resulting in an emotional wound spans two pages of the book and has the following sections:
- Notes or Examples:
- Notes talk about the event or situation and how it could have come about or impacted the character.
- Examples sometimes contain the same information as a note and always have a list of causes or very specific events or situations. For example, two of the perpetrators/situations listed under “Being Bullied” are “A jealous friend or resentful classmate” and “Co-workers who were threatened by one’s status or prowess.”
- Basic Needs Often Compromised by This Wound: universal needs that often are not met or not fully met when an individual has the featured emotional wound
- False Beliefs that Could Be Embraced: a list of erroneous beliefs an individual might have as a result of the featured emotional wound
- The Character May Fear…: a list of common fears for people who have the featured emotional wound
- Possible Responses and Results: a list of ways people handle/respond (positively or negatively) to the featured trauma/emotional wound
- Personality Traits that May Form: attributes and flaws that often develop as a result of the emotional wound
- Triggers That Might Aggravate This Wound: a list of events, sights, or situations that might trigger the trauma/jab at the emotional wound
- Opportunities to Face or Overcome This Wound: a list of situations or realizations that are difficult for the person who has the emotional wound
I hope you find these books as helpful as I do.