Emotion Thesaurus Addendum: Wariness

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.


  • Stand-offishness
  • Cutting the eyes at the speaker
  • Increased pulse, adrenaline kicking in
  • Speaking in a soothing, placating voice
  • Snapping at people
  • Racing thoughts as you try to make sense of whatever it is
  • Approaching someone/something in a roundabout fashion
  • A strained voice
  • Flinching at touches
  • Pressing one’s lips together
  • White knuckles
  • Rubbing at the forehead or temples
  • Gritting teeth
  • A jutting jaw
  • Pacing…

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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7 Responses to Emotion Thesaurus Addendum: Wariness

  1. Pingback: Emotion Thesaurus Entry Collection (Samples) | WRITERS HELPING WRITERSWRITERS HELPING WRITERS

  2. Alas, this is the perfect post for me right now, because I have recently been wary of some folks in my life…now I have a thesaurus for it 🙂

  3. Becca says:

    Woot! So glad this is helping.

  4. Angela says:

    Glad this helps! 🙂

  5. Perfect timing.. I seriously just printed this list out for my next scene in my WIP. Thanks! 🙂

  6. PJ Hoover says:

    As always, you guys rock!
    Thanks again!

  7. Parakeva says:

    Did I suggest this one? I guess it doesn’t matter, but I was just thinking about it the other day and it’s an excellent coincidence! ‘Cos I can’t actually remember if I did or not…

    Anyway, thank you once more!

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