Book Review: “The Emotion Thesaurus”

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Several reactions to a variety of emotions

I had been eying “The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression” when suddenly I realized I had inadvertently purchased it for the Kindle app on my phone; however, that mistake proved quite fortuitous.

As the name suggests the book is a thesaurus with each entry being an emotion, such as “Anger,” “Confidence,” “Desperation,” and so on. Each of these entries then contain a definition of the emotion followed by physical signals, internal sensations a character might feel and mental responses, in addition to cues of being conflicted over the long term and cues when suppressing the feeling. Each entry also includes a writer’s tip.

Like all thesauruses, writer’s need to be careful on how they use it (in the future, I will be writing an article on thesaurus abuse); it is not a cure all, but it might be able to get the creative juices going to great unique, realistic reactions. Writer’s who purchases need to remember the book is a thesaurus, a tool not a how-to-guide. Some entries can be short, which is why I recommend also checking the entries of related emotions to further expand on possible reactions.

All in all, I highly recommend this book for writers’ bookshelves as a potential useful tool, especially when you find your characters over the course of the novel constantly using the same reactions e.g., sighing, scowling, etc.

What is even better is the authors of “The Emotion Thesaurus” are donating a portion of their profits to The Heifer Project, a great program that address world hunger through giving livestock (like pigs, cows, goats, sheep, chickens, rabbits, etc.) to families in need, even training them how to properly care for them. Through the program, these families are given the tools to not only provide for themselves but potentially earn a living selling products from their animal e.g., eggs, milk, etc.

It is a project particularly close to my heart since it was started by my church denomination (Church of the Brethren), and my mother, who was an elementary school teacher, would often raise money with her students for the project. After my mother passed, we continued that tradition by donating part of the funeral donations to The Heifer Project; the rest into a scholarship in her memory.

The authors also have a very informative blog that contains additional thesauruses, plus supplemental material to “The Emotion Thesaurus” (like how men and women react differently to certain emotions).

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4 thoughts on “Book Review: “The Emotion Thesaurus”

    • It was quite the find, indeed! It really helped me freshen up a few chapters later on in the book that did not have the emotion pull that they should have had! It is especially a good price on Kindle right now, $4.99!

    • Oh tell me about it! I love it to death. Don’t forget to check out their blog, thebookshelfmuse.blogspot.com/p/the-emotion-thesaurus.html, which has other great thesauruses available! Happy writing!

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