Friday, April 5, 2013

#FridayReview #6: The Emotion Thesaurus

I'm going to do something different with this #FridayReview and that's to review something that isn't entertainment! This is a blog about writing, after all. So if you feel like your book is filled with nodding, grunting, scowling neanderthals, then you'll understand why I went out and bought:

 By Becca Puglisi and Angela Ackerman

The Emotion Thesaurus is what it says it is. It's a thesaurus filled with emotions. But it's more than your generic thesaurus -- it gives you a breakdown of all the traits associated with certain emotions, be they physical tics or internal cues such has hammering heartbeats. They're all in a modern human context, since that's the most widely applicable cross-genre, but there's a few in here that provide a good basis for imagining alien or animal responses. 

Each emotion links to the aggravated or subdued versions of itself, such as something like Anger-Rage-Annoyance. Not every emotion you can think of is in here -- for example I couldn't find exasperated, but there's enough that you'll find one close to it, and get some inspiration from the cues within. 

The power of emotion can't be understated, and the introduction does a good example of some some show vs. tell texts. There's some good advice to be found in this book, and I actually wished there was more of it before I actually got to the thesaurus part. After reading through the thing (it's about as long as some short novels!) I definitely know there's a lot I need to go back and work on in my WIP. 

There are times, of course, where it is appropriate to say "X felt thusly" or "X was [emotion]." Sometimes that's all there is to it! Sometimes it can be more powerful to just say "I'm pissed" than to describe a whole set of pissed-offedness symptoms. But that's only if you've previously established what happens when that character is pissed. You know how they feel, you know what happens. If you've never written anything else about that character being pissed off, then you shouldn't be using it.

The Emotion Thesaurus is a great tool to help you define your character's unique traits. Everyone reacts differently to different emotions, and so should your characters, unless it matters to the plot. There's nothing worse than reading a story where almost every character is just a copy of the other one. Making unique characters is one of the best things about RPGs, and therefore about writing. I'm not going to call this book "essential" but it is something I keep nearby (just like the rest of my library). After all, not everyone nods to say yes.

ONE WORD REVIEW: USEFUL                                                        B/W/D: BUY IF YOU WANNA

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