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.
· Lifting one’s chin
· Direct, probing eye contact
· A sigh that conveys annoyance (huff)
· Waving a hand in dismissal
· Perfect posture–shoulders back, exposed neck
· A determined walk, strut or swagger
· Talking over people, controlling conversations
· Lavishing praise on “golden ones” (children, friends in favor, people in power)
· An arrogant laugh
· Tossing one’s hair back, a shake of the head
· Settling back in a chair with exaggerated casualness
· Creating movements that direct attention to oneself (waving a cigar, flashing an expensive watch)
· Fidgeting with jewelry in order to draw attention to it
· Clapping someone on the back, overplaying closeness or friendship…
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.
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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!
Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling.
Interesting post–gives me some ideas.
Can you add some writing examples, too? That would be helpful.
Thanks and keep up the great work!
Glad that you’re finding it helpful–thanks for posting to let us know!
The Emotion Thesaurus entries are SO helpful!
I do quite a bit of theatre, and I’ve always struggled with finding “business” that suits my character and what she’s thinking and feeling– these are a great source for ideas on how to make my character move and, by doing so, make her more real.