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.
· Stumbling to a halt
· Dry mouth
· Throat clearing, swallowing
· Fluttering in the stomach, a feeling of emptiness, nausea
· Tongue getting tangled, going speechless
· Non-stop talking
· Mental fuzziness, lightheadedness, dizziness, difficulty focusing on tasks
· Feeling faint
· Tingling skin, a hyper-awareness of the body
· Swaying to bump against the other person as you walk
· Exchanging personal effects (a favorite jacket, a necklace, keys, locker combinations)
· Feeling or displaying jealousy when someone shows interest in your significant other
· Doodling hearts, writing notes to the other person
· Asking a close friend to talk to the person you’re attracted to and determined their feelings…
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.
Ashley Flores says
I’m 13 and I want to be a writer when older not a big writer or anything like that but I like writing fanfics and posting them on an app called wattpad for people to read them and enjoy it. This website helped a lot with the chapter I’m writing and the chapters yet to come.
ANGELA ACKERMAN says
Glad it helped, Ashley! Wattpad is a great site–very glad you’re enjoying the community there. 🙂
S. Mozer says
This is great! Thanks so much for the ideas. Keep them coming!!
Thanks for commenting, Laurie–we love comments, and yes, definitely suggestions! I’m planning on doing a blog post soon on what the readers would like to see moving forward.
Thanks for de-cloaking to say hi!
Angela, great comments on YA vs. Adult attraction signals.
I’m chiming in well after the start of your “Emotion Thesaurus” series, but just wanted you to know I’m one the of the “appreciative but silent” readers who follows your blog on a regular basis (also a member of the Toasted Scimitar bloggers and a CCer).
Your Emotion Thesaurus is a great jumpstart on those days when the muse just isn’t firing. Being a Sci-Fi Rom writer, this Love & Attraction listing is especially helpful.
Please keep ’em coming. (BTW, are you taking suggestions?) 🙂
Love and attraction is a bit different for adults than for teens. They’ve had the benefit of experience (good and bad) and the cues can often be more subtle. I think that with adults, there’s sometimes less ‘wondering’ if attraction is there and is returned–there seems to be a stronger knowledge that it is, but it is counterweighted by the desire to not be hurt, to not make a bad choice or repeat past relationship mistakes.
Too, adults are less likely to dismiss ‘warning signs’ like aloofness, moodiness, anger management, bad habits (drinking too much, gambling, etc) which makes them a bit more hesitant about jumping into relationships with both feet.
Mary Witzl says
Ah, those were the days! It’s good to have an emotional thesaurus when you’ve almost forgotten what it felt like to fall in love.
I’m trying to work signs like these into a manuscript I’ve been working on for the past year (for adults, not kids) and it’s hard to get the balance just right: I have two protaganists who are slowly developing the beginnings of a mutual attraction, in fits and starts. It’s hard not to lay it on too thick, and sometimes I worry that I haven’t put in enough hints…