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.

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