Show It With A Look

Published August 29, 2013 by M E McMahon


How many of you writers out there have heard the expression “Show…don’t tell”…most of you, I bet.  We writers often fall into the “She was angry…she was very happy…she was embarrassed” lines in which you try to tell what the characters feelings are at the time.

These sentences usually appear in my first draft of my story.  I then have to go back and start “Showing” what my character does when he/she is angry, happy or embarrassed. Because I have learned that letting my readers see what my character is feeling and the effect it has on them physically makes my character more real…more alive.

Sometimes, when I’m trying to write about the “look” my character has for a specific emotion, I need a little help.  Luckily, I found a great book titled “The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writers Guide to Character Expression” by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. This book is always by my side during the second or third draft of my story…when I’m trying to give my characters more life.

It’s laid out in a very easy to understand format and almost does the work for me. The authors have taken each emotion and broken it down into the definition, the physical signals, the internal sensations a character might have, mental responses and much more.  I have yet to find an emotion that isn’t covered in the book and I find it an invaluable resource when I’m trying to “Show” my character’s feelings.

I’m sure there are many excellent books out there that cover the same subject, but I haven’t had the need to look for them since The Emotion Thesaurus does the job so well for my characters.

So, if you are trying to “Show it with a look” I recommend you give The Emotion Thesaurus a try to make your readers see what your character is feeling. I found it on Amazon and I believe it was very, very cheap.

To me, it’s worth it’s weight in gold and I can’t imagine writing without it!

Yours in Writing,


28 comments on “Show It With A Look

    • Probably that old Crank across the way…I’ve seen her clutching it for dear life.

      There is no way to thank you enough for what you did for my feeble little pics…they look beautiful now! I’m taking them over to my daughter’s house next visit as her printer works better at printing out photos.

      It was so sweet of you to do that! And the Tanka brought tears to my eyes! Hugs and hugs for such sweet words!


      • I’m really glad you enjoyed them! That’s what friends are for, and those photos were far from feeble as you saw, I actually did very little to them, that is I just tweaked the ones without the Haiku, the Haiku ones I tweeaked a little more mostly cropping or shadowing…that was it.


      • I’ve done one post on Pixelventures’ close-up…but will do another soon either there or on the 13th Floor…some things take a little learning but framing, simple tweaks ans signing are very simple,


  • The book looks like it might really be worth looking into. I added it to my wish list on Amazon, but it might be awhile before I get some extra cash to pick it up. (have to finish getting fall and winter baby clothes first)


    • Ah, I remember the good old days. I’d finally get that snowsuit on the baby and watch with horror as her face turned red and you just knew you had to take it back off to change the diaper and start all over again. 🙂


  • Thanks for the tip! I started an Excel spreadsheet for expressions that I’ve heard or read to help with “showing” emotions and feelings. This sounds like a great addition to what I’ve tried to do on my own. I’m glad we found each other.


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