Emotion Thesaurus Entry: Desperation

·Pleading, begging
·Anxious muttering to oneself
·Grabbing fistfuls of hair at the sides of the head
·Crying, sobbing, wailing
·Unable to make out words properly, incomprehensible to others
·A willingness to do anything to change the outcome, even committing acts that go against one’s moral code
·Stuttering, inarticulation
·Extreme risk-taking in order to survive or protect another
·Pleading to be exchanged for another: “Take me instead!” or “I’ll go, you stay.”
·Grabbing onto another person or shaking them in an effort to make yourself heard
·Internal anguish that leads to law-breaking or betrayal in order to save oneself or another
·Increased strength, fortitude, or whatever is needed to survive or save another
·Irrational thinking, poor judgement
·Refusing to see truth or be reasoned with
·Rubbing own upper arms for comfort
·Hugging shoulders, chin tight to the chest…

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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7 Responses to Emotion Thesaurus Entry: Desperation

  1. Mike's Blog says:

    “I have,” I sobbed uncontrollably, sniff, sob, “I have…” It was like a cork floating in a bottle of words. Each time I went to pour, the cork jammed in my throat.

  2. Hannah says:

    Literally, as SOON as I started reading this, I wanted to go off and write a description.

    Thank you so much for this. 🙂

  3. Angela says:

    Thanks Bish! And I agree PJ, let’s leave the despair to the characters!

  4. Bish Denham says:

    Just reading this list made me feel desperate. Good job! I LOVE thi s Thesarus.

  5. C.R. Evers says:

    I swear you guys must have a camera in my house when you make these lists!!!!! %0P

    Another great list!


  6. PJ Hoover says:

    Oh, this is a great one! Thanks!
    There’s always a use for it – at least for my characters. I don’t want any despair 🙂

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