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.
·A delayed response
·A head tilt and pause
·A noncommittal answer: Maybe, or We’ll see
·Flapping your hand at someone, dismissing them or their idea
·A quick widening of the eyes, either at the person proposing the idea or to another person involved
·Rubbing the back of the neck without making eye contact
·Biting or chewing on the lip
·Hmming and Hawing
·A purposeful shiver or shudder
·A heavy sigh
·A jutting chin
·A dark, silent look…
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.
Becca Puglisi says
We’re so glad you’re finding something useful here, Gigi. Thanks for following!
This site has just saved my life! Emotions can be so hard to put into words sometimes. Thank you so much for the wonderful work you both do. I am, i believe, your newest faithful follower <3. Now, for sure, it will be a lot easier to keep developing my book 🙂
I love your sight. When I’m stuck creatively, it gives me a boost, and not always how I might expect.
Bish– I keep zombies in the basement, and force them to come up with actions each week. Upon complying, I throw them a person who has sent Becca or I a rejection letter as a reward.
Fairchild–thanks for popping in to say hi! We’re glad the thesaurus is doing it’s job!
I just want to say thank you so much for this wonderful thesaurus!! It is truly invaluable, and you gals are amazing.
Bish Denham says
How do you do it? Does it keep you awake nights thinking of all these things? So good!
Thanks PJ–you too!
PJ Hoover says
Really, another great entry! Hope you gals have a great weekend!