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.
· Holding a hand up as you laugh as if to ward off more jokes or to ask for someone to stop being so funny
· A disheveled appearance as a result of giving yourself over to laughter
· Throwing your head back in a bray of laughter
· Grabbing at the ribs like you have a stitch in your side
· Weakness in the knees, muscles twitching
· Trying to keep a straight face but failing
· Covering the mouth with a hand to hide a smile or hold in a laugh
· Turning away in an attempt to regain control of one’s features
· Cupping the cheeks with the hands and shaking with laughter
· Avoiding eye contact to maintain control over laughter
· Clearing one’s throat, struggling to speak in full sentences
· Attempting to change the topic/discussion to avoid falling apart with laughter
· Making gestures in lieu of speaking because you’re unable to form words correctly
· Biting down on the lip, pressing lips together to keep laughter in
· Punching someone in the arm
· Bumping shoulders with someone, giving them a good-natured shake or slap on the back
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!
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.
Safah Ahmed says
Wow, this is AMAZING! Really helps when it comes to trying to rid your writing of the old cliched words and descriptions. 🙂
Angela Ackerman says
With the release of our book The Emotion Thesaurus, we’ve reduced the blog content to a sample.
all of these are wonderful but i’ve noticed the lists have gotten a lot shorter for each trait. is this n error on my computer or have they really been cut down? =(
I’m always happy to get a post from here, because it brings me back to the site. Love it Thanks.
Tamara Mousner says
Thank you so much for this wonderful resource. I’ve placed a link to it on my blog.
What a terrific resource!! Thank you for providing a ready source for inspiration!
Angela Ackerman says
Absolutely, anon. But I recommend you tweak the ideas you see here to fit your character or situation. 🙂 All the best with your writing!
Thanku it was a great help…can I use them in my writings?
I know I’ve said that I love this before, but I just wanted to say I had a blank on describing an amused character and this really helped!
Thanks everyone, and we appreciate the link, CR!
C.R. Evers says
I love these!!! What a great resource. Thanks for doing this. I’m going to link you to my blog!
Karen L. Alaniz says
That is hysterical. It reminds me of a time when I was working on my masters degree. We’d been sitting in “educational law” for way too long and were on information overload. I can’t remember what a few of us started to laugh about, but I do remember we became inconsolable (if that’s possible with laughter). Soon, the whole class was staring at us and we just couldn’t stop laughing. The esteemed guest speaker decided to give the class a short break. A classmate came over and said we were so “immature.” And what did we do, we laughed some more. The speaker came over and we managed to apologize, to which he said he understood, and stated that happens when there is too much learning and not enough breaks. Sheesh…that’s for sure! ~Karen
liss n kids says
What fun! These emotion thesaurus entries are great!
I love this 🙂