When it comes to emotion, sometimes we need a brainstorming nudge. After all, each character will express their feelings differently depending on their personality, emotional range, and comfort zone. We hope this short, sample list of expressions will help you better imagine how your character might show this emotion!
If you need to go deeper, we have detailed lists of body language, visceral sensations, dialogue cues, and mental responses for 130 emotions in the 2019 expanded second edition of The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression.
- pounding fists against the thighs, a table, a wall
- breathing deeply, noisily
- laughter with an edge
- snapping at people
- talking in a carefully controlled tone
- a shaking voice
- picking fights (verbal or physical)
- irrational reactions to inconsequential things
- demanding immediate action
- jumping into things without thinking
- taking inappropriate risks…
Win your readers’ hearts by tailoring your character’s emotional responses so they’re compelling, credible, and realistic.
If you struggle with writing emotions, you aren’t alone. The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression has helped writers all over the globe, and it can help you. To find out more about this bestselling book, please visit our bookstore.
Prefer the flexibility of instant online access and greater searchability?
The Emotion Thesaurus is also at our sister site, One Stop for Writers. Visit the Emotion Thesaurus Page to view our complete list of entries.
TIP: While you’re there, check out our hyper-intelligent Character Builder that helps you create deep, memorable characters in half the time!
Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, a portal to powerful, innovative tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
Angela Ackerman says
We’ve turned the Emotion thesaurus into a book, so you can find many more emotions there, along with in depth information about emotion.
Have a great day!
Robert Foster says
This one of the greatest blogs I have ever found. It consistantly makes my writing better. Would you be willing to add a couple of things to The Emotion Thesaurus? Entries for contempt, lust and irrationality would be big helps (I’m struggling to write scenes that include these. Thanks again for your hard work!
Thank you for this resource! Fantastic!
mesin fotocopy says
Hey there, You have done a fantastic job. I will certainly digg it and personally suggest to my friends. I am confident they’ll be benefited from this website.
Oh my, I just stumbled upon your site while searching for descriptions for places. Oh my gosh, you are a godsend! Can’t thank you enough!
Theresa Milstein says
Nice change from, “She was angry!” Show, not tell.
Dominique Eastwick says
Fantastic Blog thanks.
Just thought you might like to know I dug this out today especially to help with the rewrite of a scene :o)
Crystal (writermama on bb's) says
Angela, Becca, thank you SO MUCH for this resource!! I just now happened upon this link through the blue boards (Verla Kay’s chat board) and couldn’t be more delighted. I am currently working on a mid-grade novel and recently got stuck on how to show a character’s anger. I put something very cliche but NOW I’m going back to revise it. Thank you, thank you for compiling such great ideas!
Thanks for letting us know where you heard about it from–it’s good to know the word is spreading. We really hope this will be a good resource for writers.
What an excellent idea. Very useful for writers. I have bookmarked your blog for easy reference.
I heard about this from the forum on Critique Circle. Thanks for a valuable resource.
We’re onto you, Kim. MWHAHAHAHAHHA
This is amazing! How did you know I needed this? 😉 Thank you both so much!
Glad you like it, Rachel :).
Thanks for your feedback–it’s good to know that others find this useful. Feel free to link to us if it’s easier–we’ll profile new emotions each week.
This IS a great idea! Love these posts. I am going to print these our for those times when I am telling and not showing. Thanks!
Yay! Hopefully it will come in useful. Thanks, Courtney!
Thanks, Courtney! We hope to post other ‘idea banks’ on different aspects of description as we move forward.
! What a FANTASTIC, excellent, excellent, helpful idea for blog entries. Rock on, you guys!!