The coffee on the desk is cold. The doorbell’s ringing. Your dog is making those frantic whimpers meaning ‘I want to go outside and maybe pee on something’ has escalated to ‘Another 10 seconds and you’ll need a boat to get to the kitchen’. You are aware of these things, yet stay glued to your chair, your fingers flying across the keyboard. Not now, you think. Not yet!
Because you’re AT THE GOOD PART.
You know what I mean–the part of the story that can’t pour out fast enough. Your MC’s paralyzed by fear, the enemy is sure of victory. All is lost, and won, so THEY think. But not you. No, you know what’s coming next and can’t WAIT to knock the villain off his game and let your MC prove what he’s made of. But first, you need to imprint this moment of fear in your book. You need to make hopelessness seep off the page.
You start to type how your MC is cringing in terror and then stop. You glance back a page and shake your head. Somebody cringed in the last scene–can’t use that one. Hot, shuddering breaths? Nope, breathing’s already come up a million times in this book, so that beat won’t work. You need something different, something unique to show fear. His eyes widened? His face was a frozen mask? Pu-leeze. The POV police are screaming at the thought.
The joy and energy starts to leak out of you. The excitement that brought you here is fading. You can’t seem to find the right way to show the rawness of your character’s fear. Everything action you come up with seems trite or hollow or cliché.
Reality trickles in: the coffee’s even colder now, and the mailman has gone. Your fliers are probably out there on the step, about to blow away. And of course the eerie silence means your dog no longer needs to go outside. You sag in your chair, defeated by a descriptive beat.
As you leave to mop up Mr. Ruffy’s mess, you glance at the computer screen and think, if only I had a thesaurus of emotional beats.
And now you do: The Emotion Thesaurus. The list of emotions in our sidebar contain bodily cues associated with different emotions. Just click on the emotion you need, scroll through the list, and see if one of our ideas sparks one of your own. But that’s not all. If you’re intrigued and want to see more, check out the expanded and streamlined book version. The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression is available for purchase in a variety of formats through a number of distributors.
Also available is the companion guide: Emotion Amplifiers, a $2.99 ebooklet containing 15 states that naturally galvanize emotion and make characters more volatile. If you’re interested in further stressing your characters through the use of internal and external stimuli, click here to see where you can pick up a copy.
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.