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.
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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.