Emotion Thesaurus Entry: Sympathy/Empathy

· Kind words, a soothing tone
· Squeezing a shoulder or hand
· Crying with the person
· Using clichés (this too will pass, keep your chin up)
· Giving comfort through gifts
· Clumsy attempts to comfort (a weak smile, an awkward hug)
· Fumbling for words, not sure what to say
· Overt patience—sitting and listening intently, ignoring discomforts (cold, rain, heat) just to be there for someone…

Commiseration between guys:
· Saying, Yeah, I hear you, or I feel you man
· A one-shoulder shrug
· Bending closer or leaning in with hands in pockets, asking if he’s all right, if he needs to talk
· A heavy nod
· Listening while participating in another activity
· Offering to take him somewhere—a walk, a car ride, a party
· Offering to avenge the offended party…

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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7 Responses to Emotion Thesaurus Entry: Sympathy/Empathy

  1. Vijaya says:

    Your emotional thesaurus is a winner. What a wonderful way to help us all to *show* not tell.
    Thank you.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for these wonderful lists. 🙂

  3. Angela says:

    Glad it’s helping. Both Becca and I were so frustrated that there was nothing like this on the net that we finally decided to start one.

    Please by all means, link! We love links. The more writers we reach, the better.

  4. Rachel says:

    I agree, I enjoy reading these. The critique posts are great too. If you don’t mind, I would like to add a link to your blog from mine.

  5. WordWrangler says:

    I soooo enjoy these posts! I know EXACTLY where to come if I’m having a brain freeze! Thank you, thank you! 🙂


  6. Nicely done! I love reading these.

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