26 February 2014

New Tool in my Writer's Toolbox: The Emotion Thesaurus

As a former engineer**, I love working with systems, structures, and tools. In my engineering days, there was a specific problem to solve within a specific system with specific processes, specific requirements, and specific desired outcomes. Straightforward and repeatable. Something I understood.

There is nothing straightforward or repeatable about the storytelling process. Sure, there are systems to work in: romance, historical fiction, women's lit, urban fantasy, but the lines between genres are blurred. Sure, there is the requirement to write a good story, but it's vague, obvious, and not particularly helpful, especially when each story has its own eccentricities. Then there's the cardinal rule: Show, don't tell, except for when you have to. Clear as mud.

As a creature of habit that works with the nebulous distinctions of emotions of characters, I get in a rut when conveying emotions. "She rolled her eyes." "Her eyebrows furrowed." "He sighed." "He clenched his hands into fists."

Which is why I'm glad I found The Emotion Thesaurus

Emotions/feelings are listed alphabetically. Each entry provides a list of ways to describe a character's emotion through their physical actions and appearance, as if observing the emotion in another person. It also provides examples of emotional descriptions from an internal point of view.

I purchased the ebook version (Kindle format) so that I could have it with me without adding bulk inside my backpack. This strategy has already proven handy when I'm in the car fitting in some writing while waiting for the kids to get out of school.

A few reviews on Goodreads gave me pause - that it was too basic, that writers already knew how to write emotion. However many more reviews touted its usefulness in depicting emotion.

Since purchasing the book, I've looked up a few emotions and used the descriptions in my own writing, adding my own twist as the story dictates. Looking forward, I can see this the reference tool becoming something I use frequently. And getting out of a writing rut.

If you're a writer and in need of something to help spruce up your writing, this might be something for your toolbox too.##

** I doubt there is such a creature as a former engineer -- once an engineer, always an engineer.

## No compensation was received, nor expected, for this mini-review.

13 February 2014

Why Just a Week, Let's Make it Love of Reading Everyday!

 It's Love of Reading Week. My children and I love this week of celebrations.

How could we not? Reading is encouraged every day this week. Parents read favorite stories to classrooms. People share book tips with others. Character parades bring out the kid and joy in everyone. So, why do we only celebrate it just one week?

I think it should be Love of Ready Everyday.

Putting aside the research that indicates that reading is good for the brain and psyche, there's just the plain joy of getting lost in a story. But Love of Reading Everyday could lead to other not so tangible results. If everyone read everyday, there would be less time for less savory things.

Instead of bullying, people could fall in love with Harry, Ron and Hermione. And discover a universe of other people moved by the same story that band together under the power of love.

Instead of fighting, a little reader could imagine himself in the desert making Stone Pizza with that clever Coyote. And use Coyote's tricks of bringing people together to create something that everyone can share and enjoy.

Instead of holding grudges, someone could listen to Curiosity Freeman share what secrets she' been keeping in the Endless Forests. And the reader could discover her own humility and strength that's been hiding inside so she can have the courage to let go of the hurt.

Instead of wallowing in self-pity, you could fight the good fight along side Harry Dresden as he casts spells and avoids death by the skin of his teeth. And learn that sometimes you gotta fight for something larger than yourself.

All it takes is a Majority of One, or so said Mr. Thoreau. What could be more right than reading everyday? That's why at our house, from now on, we celebrate Love of Reading Everyday.