Emotion Thesaurus Entry: Frustration

· Making fists
· Waving a hand, “talking” with the hands
· Interrupted or erratic strides
· A need to ask questions, rehash information
· Tightness in the chest
· Speaking through one’s teeth with forced restraint
· Speaking without thought, often leading to regret
· A harried appearance, sweating
· Pleading, bargaining
· Running one’s hands through the hair
· Scrunching up one’s face and then releasing, trying to regain calm
· Clumsiness (slopping coffee, knocking something over, breaking something due to being rushed)
· Groaning
· Restlessness, an inability to sleep or relax
· Replaying a scene or event over and over in one’s mind, obsessing over it
· Kicking at something (a pop can on the sidewalk, a flower, a pebble, a chair)
· Having a tantrum (screaming, body flung down on the floor, kicking, crying)…

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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12 Responses to Emotion Thesaurus Entry: Frustration

  1. Pingback: Emotion Thesaurus Entry: Impatience | WRITERS HELPING WRITERSWRITERS HELPING WRITERS

  2. Pingback: Frustration: Your Novel's Best Friend | WRITERS HELPING WRITERSWRITERS HELPING WRITERS

  3. Pingback: Emotion Thesaurus Entry Collection (Samples) | Writers Helping Writers

  4. Thank you so much for creating this blog! I’m working on my first novel, and often have trouble thinking of just the right ways to portray the emotions of my characters. Therefore I refer to your blog every time I write.

  5. So glad it’s coming in useful, Cedric. Welcome!

  6. for the past few months i’ve been referring back to this site over and over for new ideas and tips about writing. this blog was the reason i started my blog

  7. Cousin Bette says:

    I looked at this list and lo and behold a picture of my day today!

  8. Angela says:

    Thanks so much guys! I think frustration is probably the biggest emotion I tend to use in writing.

  9. Mary Witzl says:

    This is mine — I get so frustrated so often, especially when I’m writing! Flared nostrils and lips pursed firmly together — don’t forget that one!

  10. Pema says:

    As always, thank you again for your emotion thesaurus entries – you make it so easy to “show, not tell”. 😉

  11. Lapillus says:

    I linked over from AW. These lists are great! : ) I’m sure I’ll be visiting them from time to time.

  12. C.R. Evers says:

    Great list! I’ll be visiting this one a lot!


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