Writing Thesaurus Series

Discussion in 'Reading & Writing' started by Ken Anderson, Aug 19, 2017.

  1. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Greeter
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    Jan 21, 2015
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    Good fiction authors are diligent observers of people, making note of the way that various people phrase things in actual conversation, their body language, etc. - all for the sake of being able to incorporate these traits from actual people into the fictional characters they create.

    They also pay attention to their surroundings, and may visit different places just so that they can incorporate the sights, smells, sounds and whatever into their stories. Someone who has never left New York City might have trouble writing a story whose setting is rural North Dakota. Likewise, someone who grew up on a farm, and has never live in a large city, would have to depend on what they may have seen on television in order to write a scene set in San Francisco.

    Of particular interest, if you have ever tried to write fiction, is a serious of thesaurus books that I came across last week. I ordered one of a set of six, to see whether it might be worthwhile. The one that I have is The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression, by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi, and have since ordered the other five.

    The Emotion Thesaurus

    Intended as an aid to conveying a character's emotions effectively so that they appear genuine, and so that the reader will be able to correctly judge a character's emotion without you (the writer) having to state the emotion. An example:


    Physical Signals
    • A wide grin
    • Eyes that sparkle and gleam
    • Laughing
    • Bouncing from foot to foot
    • Squealing, hooting, yelling
    • Telling jokes
    • Chest bumping with others
    • A loud voice
    • Singing, humming, chanting
    • Slam-dunking trash into a barrel after a game or event
    • Babbling or talking over one another in a group setting
    • Fanning oneself
    • Pretending to faint
    • Verbalizing thoughts and feelings without hesitation
    • Lifting someone up or swinging them around
    • Trembling
    • Acting hyper, immature, or foolish out of a sense of fun
    • A ruddy complexion
    • Moving about, being unable to stay still
    • Good natured shoving and pushing
    • Waving the arms, using grand gestures
    • ...

    Internal Sensations
    • Lightness in the chest
    • A fast pulse
    • Dry mouth
    • Heightened senses
    • Breathlessness
    • Adrenaline rush

    Mental Responses
    • Cameraderie with others
    • Imagining what could happen
    • Enjoyment of the communal energy
    • Impatience

    Cues of Acute or Long-Term Excitement
    • A need to run, jump, scream, whoop it up
    • An intense desire to share the feeling with others
    • A beaming face
    • Racing heartbeat
    • Sweating
    • A hoarse voice from screaming, yelling or shouting
    • A loss of inhibitions
    • May Escalate To: Satisfaction, Happiness, Elation, Disappointment

    Cues of Suppressed Excitement
    • Controlling one's movement with intent
    • Biting down on a smile
    • Swallowing a laugh or shout of glee
    • Feeling like one's insides are vibrating
    • Smoothing down clothing
    • Eyes that glow with inner light
    • Nodding rather than speaking

    Writer's Tip: If you''re stuck on how to show an emotion, form a strong image of the scene in your mind. Let the scene unfold, and watch the character to see how they move and behave.

    The Urban Setting Thesaurus

    Helps a writer to form the setting for a story that takes place in an urban environment, as each location has the potential to become a conduit for conveying emotion, characterizing the cast, providing opportunities for a deep point of view, and revealing important backstory. It includes:
    • A list of the sights, smells, tastes, textures, and sounds for over 120 urban settings
    • Possible sources of conflict for each location to help brainstorm ways to complicate matters for your characters
    • Advice on how to make every piece of description count so that you can maintain the right pace and keep readers engaged
    • Tips on utilizing the five senses to encourage readers to more fully experience each moment by triggering their own emotional memories
    • Information on how to use the setting to characterize a story's cast through personalization and emotional values, while using emotional triggers to steer their decisions
    • A review of specific challenges that arise when writing urban locations, along with common descriptive pitfalls that should be avoided.
    And so on...

    The Rural Setting Thesaurus
    The Positive Trait Thesaurus
    The Negative Trait Thesaurus

    Emotion Amplifiers

    This one is a supplement to the Emotion Thesaurus, in Kindle format, that explores 15 common states that naturally galvanize emotion. States like exhaustion, boredom, illness, pain, and extreme hunger can push characters to the limit, compromising their decision-making abilities and decreasing the likelihood of them reaching their goals. I have that one, but haven't looked at it yet.

    I might say more after I receive the others, and have had a chance to look at them.
  2. Joe Riley

    Joe Riley Veteran Member

    Mar 3, 2015
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    Ken, you sound somewhat excited about the new Series! Enjoy!:D:)
  3. Bill Boggs

    Bill Boggs Veteran Member

    May 13, 2015
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    I've never attempted any serious fiction but I didn't know such aids existed. I hope you find them a worthwhile investment and curious to hear more about them.
  4. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Greeter
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    Jan 21, 2015
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    Mostly, I couldn't think of a good way to describe it without quoting parts of it.
    Babs Hunt likes this.
  5. Spencer Berrett


    Aug 12, 2017
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    I've never been much of a creative writer, just a technocrat writing for the workplace. This gives me pause...

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