Emotion Thesaurus Entry: Sympathy/Empathy

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, and mental responses for 75 emotions in The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression.

SYMPATHY/EMPATHY

· Kind words, a soothing tone
· Squeezing a shoulder or hand
· Crying with the person
· Using clichés (this too will pass, keep your chin up)
· Giving comfort through gifts
· Clumsy attempts to comfort (a weak smile, an awkward hug)
· Fumbling for words, not sure what to say
· Overt patience—sitting and listening intently, ignoring discomforts (cold, rain, heat) just to be there for someone…

Commiseration specifically between guys or male-identifying individuals:
· Saying, Yeah, I hear you, or I feel you man
· A one-shoulder shrug
· Bending closer or leaning in with hands in pockets, asking if he’s all right, if he needs to talk
· A heavy nod
· Listening while participating in another activity
· Offering to take him somewhere—a walk, a car ride, a party
· Offering to avenge the offended party…

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. There, we’ve expanded the entries to include many more emotions such as grief, lust, and self-loathing. Visit the Emotion Thesaurus Page to view our complete list of entries.

If you’re ready to elevate your storytelling, stop by sometime to see if our one-of-a-kind tools and resources can help you. Registration is always free. 🙂

About ANGELA ACKERMAN

Angela is an international speaker and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also enjoys dreaming up new tools and resources for One Stop For Writers, a library built to help writers elevate their storytelling.
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7 Responses to Emotion Thesaurus Entry: Sympathy/Empathy

  1. Vijaya says:

    Your emotional thesaurus is a winner. What a wonderful way to help us all to *show* not tell.
    Thank you.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for these wonderful lists. 🙂

  3. Angela says:

    Glad it’s helping. Both Becca and I were so frustrated that there was nothing like this on the net that we finally decided to start one.

    Please by all means, link! We love links. The more writers we reach, the better.

  4. Rachel says:

    I agree, I enjoy reading these. The critique posts are great too. If you don’t mind, I would like to add a link to your blog from mine.

  5. WordWrangler says:

    I soooo enjoy these posts! I know EXACTLY where to come if I’m having a brain freeze! Thank you, thank you! 🙂

    Hugs,
    Donna

  6. Nicely done! I love reading these.

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