Emotion Thesaurus Addendum: Pain (Physical)

If you want to add tension and complication, an Emotional Amplifier might be just the ticket. This companion to The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression is a body language tool for describing your character’s pain, stress, illness, hunger, dehydration, attraction, and other conditions that amplify an emotional reaction.  We hope this short, sample list of expressions will help you better imagine how an amplifier makes your character more emotionally volatile…and prone to mistakes.

If you need to go deeper, we have an ebooklet of Emotional Amplifiers that contains imaginative lists of ways to show how this condition will affect your character’s mental and physical state.


  • Probing the pained area and wincing
  • Hobbling about, taking tentative steps
  • Breaths that shudder
  • Leaning back and grimacing
  • Expelling a grunt or pained hiss at exertion
  • Medicating
  • Trying to sleep it off
  • Short-temperedness
  • Fainting or blacking out
  • Trembling limbs
  • Pale, blotchy skin
  • Glassy eyes
  • Feeling cold or feverish
  • Biting the lip
  • Distracting gestures (flapping a hand, tapping a foot, nodding one’s head)…

Turn up the heat on your protagonist by adding conditions that will alter his mood and make him more emotionally reactive.

Grab this ebooklet for only $1.99. You can find it, along with all of our bestselling guides, at our bookstore.

Prefer the flexibility of instant online access and greater searchability?

Emotion Amplifiers is also at our sister site, One Stop for Writers Visit the Emotion Amplifier Thesaurus Page to view our complete list of entries.

If you’re ready to elevate your storytelling, stop by sometime to see if our one-of-a-kind tools and resources can help you. Registration is always free. 🙂


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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14 Responses to Emotion Thesaurus Addendum: Pain (Physical)

  1. Pingback: Symbolism Thesaurus Entry: Suffering | WRITERS HELPING WRITERSWRITERS HELPING WRITERS

  2. annie says:

    This is amazing! Helped me extremely. Couldn’t have been better.. Thank you so much! 😀

  3. Anonymous says:

    I stumbled upon this site about a year ago and have been using it as one of my favorite resources ever since. I just thought I’d suggest an example of phsyical pain for you, if it’s not already on there… I wouldn’t be surprised if it was, this is a long list and you have everything. But I thought maybe someone would arch their back in pain?

  4. Anonymous says:

    I found this site using [url=http://google.com]google.com[/url] And i want to thank you for your work. You have done really very good site. Great work, great site! Thank you!

    Sorry for offtopic

  5. Bish Denham says:

    Angela, I have nominated you and Becca for the Kreativ Blog award. Check my blog for details!

  6. As ever thanks for this. You’re lifesavers.

  7. Kelly says:

    This post must have hurt! :0)
    Great ideas!

  8. Mary Witzl says:

    I’ve got a 14-year-old hypochondriac sitting with me right now; she’s got stomach cramps and I do believe that she’s run through the entire gamut of your pain thesaurus… Fortunately, she’s not always like this, though I wouldn’t have to come back to this posting if she were!

  9. Bish Denham says:

    Once again, excellent! Thanks.

  10. GutsyWriter says:

    How do you keep coming up with these poignant expressions? Thank you so much.

  11. Did you ever see the Seinfeld episode when Elaine went on an ! craze?

    I thought you just used those to be more expressive.


    “It hurts!!!!!!!!!!!!”

  12. PJ Hoover says:

    Thank you for continuing to post these!
    They are beyond helpful.

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