Emotion Thesaurus Entry: Guilt

· Muttering to oneself tearfully
· A cracking voice
· Rapid, fevered apologies
· A flight response—running away, unable to deal with the consequences
· Sweating
· Paranoia that others know or are passing judgement
· Nervous fidgeting (picking at nails, squirming in chair, a scattered gaze that bounces around)
· Darting glances at the person you have wronged
· Following or stalking the one wronged, trying to convince oneself to confess
· Causing pain to oneself as penance
· Insomnia
· Paleness, a harried or haunted look
· Self-loathing
· Growing steadily reclusive, cutting oneself off from others…

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.


Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling. You can find Becca online at both of these spots, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
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3 Responses to Emotion Thesaurus Entry: Guilt

  1. Pingback: Description 911: Over Expressed Emotions | WRITERS HELPING WRITERSWRITERS HELPING WRITERS

  2. Bish Denham says:

    The Emotion Thesaurus continues to rock!

  3. Angela says:

    Great list.

    What do you think of:
    Trouble Sleeping
    Repetitive behavior

    There’s also something…something elusive about guilt… what is it -when a teacher in a room with 30 odd younger children can state the crime and the guilt it THERE played out on the face of the kid(s).

    Sometimes you can read it on someone’s face (esp. the young kids). But this post made me wonder…what is it? Skin blanching, pupils dilating, frozen type of face?

    lover ur blog!

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