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 Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression, 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.
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The thought that these authors would go back and improve a prior publication [by writing a second edition]… 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.
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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.
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The 2nd Edition of the Emotional Thesaurus includes power verbs. For example, the emotion EAGERNESS lists these words.
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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.
Link to the rest at Wordnerdopolis
Mrs. PG recently discovered this after receiving a recommendation from one of the PG offspring who just finished the first draft of her first book. PG has looked through parts of it. It seems like quite a nice reference work for authors.