Emotion Thesaurus Entry: Desire

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.


  • Obsessive thoughts
  • Trying not to think of the object
  • Finding ways to be near the object
  • Loss of appetite
  • A nervous hitch in the voice
  • Shedding bad habits that stand in the way
  • A physical ache at the need to have or be with the desire
  • Creative wooing (poetry, sentimentality, meaningful gifts)
  • Striving to prove one’s worth
  • A fluttering stomach
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • A touch that lingers
  • A deep gaze, communicating need with the eyes…

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. You can find Becca online at both of these spots, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
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4 Responses to Emotion Thesaurus Entry: Desire

  1. Pingback: Resources For Describing Emotion

  2. Marian says:

    Internal symptoms are the most fun to describe, aren’t they? 🙂

    A flip-flop reaction of the heart, as though it’s turned over…

    A hot, rushing sensation in the abdomen, as though circulation has just sped up and redirected itself…

    OK, now I’m starting to grin, so I’ll stop.

  3. GutsyWriter says:

    Hi Angela and Becca. I sent you two awards in my posting today. If you don’t have time to respond, don’t worry. I just thought you deserved them. Sonia aka GutsyWriter.

  4. PJ Hoover says:

    Great one! I love irrational thoughts. That would/will be fun to show in first person 🙂

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