A writer’s ultimate goal is to connect.
… with the reader
… with a topic
… with a place, era or event.
Many writers accomplish this goal of connecting, through the lives of their characters. The words on the page are ink made flesh and suddenly, through the characters’ actions, quirks, mannerisms, dreams, appearances and dialogue readers can connect. As the writers of this book state in the introduction: “We read to connect with characters who provide entertainment and whole trials may add meaning to our own life journeys.” But creating this connection is no easy feat.
The single best took I have found to help me in this endeavor is The Emotional Thesaurus, created by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi, the two brainiacs behind the website Writers Helping Writers. This book (as well as the others in the series) have been my number one recommended writing book for the past five years. I bring them to every writing retreat and my students can tell you they show up in class at least once a semester.
Here’s how they work. The thesaurus lists an emotion and then lays out several ways a writer could clearly convey this emotion to their reader. In the original edition of the book, this meant listing physical manifestations of the emotion, internal sensations, mental responses, acute or long-term responses to the emotion, escalations of the emotion, signs the emotion is being suppressed in your character and finally a writer’s tip on how to best put this information to work in your writing. It’s pretty dang amazing.
I recently had the honor of reviewing Angela and Becca’s newest release, The 2nd Edition of the The Emotional Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression. This edition even is bigger and better than the original. While reading, I experienced a full range of emotions myself. Let me recall them for you here and now.
The thought that these authors would go back and improve a prior publication… even though it was selling well enough on its own… even though they undoubtedly had other projects on their list… even though it was already fantastic, fills me with ADMIRATION for them. Knowing what I know now, I’ve often thought about doing this for one of my early books. I think, “I could make that so much better NOW”. But I haven’t pulled the trigger yet. I admire these ladies for digging deep, for pushing themselves, for following through and for presenting an even more thorough resource.
I adore the practical approach this book takes to the complex art of clearly conveying emotion. The introduction claims the book is a “how to cocktail” of writing emotion. I can tell you, proven by the magnets on my fridge, that anyone who can use a cocktail metaphor in their writing, has won my ADORATION for life.
The 2nd Edition of the Emotional Thesaurus includes power verbs. For example, the emotion EAGERNESS lists these words.
I don’t know about you, but the urge to pounce on these lists and snatch up a word of my liking is almost too much for me handle.
The previous edition of the book listed an escalating emotion for each entry. For example, if a character feels this particular way, and the situation causing that feeling continues, they might ratchet their sentiments to that emotion next. As I looked at the new version and saw the addition of a de-escalating emotion, I felt extreme GRATITUDE for the level of depth the creators went to in taking this resource to a new level of awesomeness.
My absolute favorite parts of the Emotion Thesaurus are the Writer’s Tips. At last, the secrets are revealed! At the end of each emotion entry, the authors spell out how exactly you can put these characteristics and traits into action. No smoke and mirrors behind the writing craft techniques here. The transparency will leave you feeling EUPHORIC, at least, that was the result for me. Take a look and the samples below.
Just as emotions are made of may layers, so too is this book. At its foundational level, it is a resource comprised of 131 human emotions and a plethora of ways a writer can convey those feelings. But built on top of that foundation are turrets and towers of technique. Preceding the emotional entries are SIX PAGES of instruction on how to effectively communicate emotion through dialogue. As I read these pages I was ELATED and felt some of these sensations for myself.
So much of becoming a better writer is a vague journey, but here, in black and white print, were easy to follow steps that I could take to improve.
When I saw the emotional entry for schadenfreude, I felt STUNNED. These ladies really thought of everything! Other new emotion additions to the second edition include: acceptance, betrayed, disillusionment, grief, humbled, inspired, moody, obsessed, sappy, validated, wistful and more!
And finally, I am filled with ANTICIPATION and can’t wait to get this book in my hands and onto my shelf. I know that my own writing, as well as the writing of my students, will dramatically improve thanks to the hard work of Angela and Becca.
So there you have it! A full range of emotions experienced as I previewed this new and amazing writing resource! As you may have already guessed, each of the emotions I listed above can be found in The 2nd Edition of the Emotional Thesaurus. If you are interested in adding this amazing book to your personal shelf, you can purchase it here. If you want to dig even deeper, a webinar explaining how to use the thesaurus, will be available here, for a short time.
Thank you for stopping by to read today. I hope that the rest of your day and week are filled with all sorts of wonderful emotions and that you find the words to clearly express them. Until next time, HAPPY WRITING!
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