Emotion Thesaurus: Shock/Surprise

· A small yelp, gasp, squeal, or scream
· Tingling skin
· A heavy feeling in the stomach
· A stiffening posture, rigid muscles
· A sudden coldness (dread) that hits at the core
· Reaching up a hand to lightly clasp the throat
· Splaying the fingers out in a fan against the breastbone
· Pulling books or another object tight against chest
· Eyes that water, shine, or form tears
· A sudden onset of anger or frustration (swearing, screaming, acting violent)
· A shaky voice–soft, halting, disbelieving
· Asking simple questions for clarification: who, when, why?
· A feeling of disorientation, dizziness, euphoria
· A shaky or slow smile that builds as the surprise sinks in
· Grabbing someone close by for comfort
· Giving a quick bark of laughter…

Win your readers’ hearts by tailoring your character’s emotional responses so they’re compelling, credible, and realistic.

If you struggle with writing emotions like so many writers do, you’ll be happy to know that this sample has been expanded into book form. The full list of physical, internal, and mental cues for this and 74 other emotions can be found in The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression. For more information on this bestselling book and where it can be found, please visit our bookstore.

And the news gets better: we’ve added 15 entries to this collection, including grief, lust, and self-loathing. To access these, simply visit our online library at One Stop For Writers. There, you’ll find all 90 entries from our popular Emotion Thesaurus, which have been updated and enhanced to provide even greater value. Users also enjoy the flexibility of cross-referenced material for easy searchability across all of our completed thesaurus collections. Interested in viewing a sample? Register for free at One Stop, and see what this innovative online library can do for your storytelling.


Angela is an international speaker and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also enjoys dreaming up new tools and resources for One Stop For Writers, a library built to help writers elevate their storytelling.
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17 Responses to Emotion Thesaurus: Shock/Surprise

  1. Aldrick says:

    Mrs Ackerman can I send you an e-mail? I need your help with my writings desperately

  2. Pingback: 4 Tips to Convey Surprise – Kristina Boucher

  3. Malia says:

    I’m 16 years old and I want to be a writer after I finish school! This thesaurus is absolutely amazing! It helps me a lot! 🙂

  4. Fernando says:

    This is an amazing resource. Thank you very much.
    Even though I write in Portuguese, I’ve been using this thesaurus for reference over and over again.

  5. Pingback: Emotion Thesaurus Entry: Indignation | WRITERS HELPING WRITERSWRITERS HELPING WRITERS

  6. Pingback: Emotion Thesaurus Entry Collection (Samples) | WRITERS HELPING WRITERSWRITERS HELPING WRITERS

  7. Just used this again and had to say thank you. I put the link to our article covering this and your other thesaurus tools on our new Popular Posts section so everyone can see it. Thanks so much!

  8. Most Wanted says:

    I used your blog for my first book… Most Wanted by Mark McHugh (available on Amazon) and I am finding it indespensible for the sequel, which I am now writing.
    Happy bursts of screaming, shouting, laughter, squeals, giggles from a devoted fan!

  9. Angela says:

    Glad to see you here, Roy!

  10. irbuk says:

    I made it, finally. Just what I needed ladies, as I try to write a new scene.

  11. Unhinged says:

    These are great. I know I’ll refer back to them often. Thank you so much, both of you!

  12. Angela says:

    *stares at Sera phyn*

    LOL, thanks. Glad it’s helping!

  13. Sera Phyn says:

    You took the challenge! That’s wonderful! I’m in the middle of my book and people are starting to stare in shock a lot; I needed a reference like this to fall back on. You guys are great! 😀


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