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.
- body slumping, losing its stiff posture
- shaky laughter
- a slow smile
- falling back into a chair
- asking/demanding someone to repeat good news
- asking a redundant question to assure that the moment is real
- eyes that go up, looking heavenward
- letting out a huge breath
- rocking back and forth
- a slight moan
- lips parting
- showing emotion/kinship toward others (hugging, reaching for their hands)
- pressing a palm to the heart
- briefly bowing the head
- closed eyes, compulsive nodding…
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.
Michael Hwaylo says
Felix f says
This was just what I needed. I don’t like reusing the same body movements more then a couple of times.
Thanks for dropping a note to let us know. 🙂
Bish Denham says
I like your Emotional Thesaurus, a handy list to have. Thanks for sharing.
Bish Denham says
I like your emotional thesaurus, a handy list to have! Thanks for sharing.
Thanks, Luc! Come back any time. 🙂
I got here through the Toasted Scimitar, and also saw your post on CC. Great lists, and very nice blog overall.
To quote Schwarzenegger: “I’ll be back.” (insert German accent)