I was writing a story over the weekend and I got to a very familiar stage. How to describe emotions. I’m really bad at describing settings and also dialogue tags that aren’t the basic he said, she said.
Obviously, someone can be sad, but how do you actually describe that.
Usually I’d write:
“I feel so sad,” Bob said with a forlorn expression on his face.
“That’s a shame,” John replied.
I suppose that’s fine, but when I write, I visualise everything in my head, so in a longer stretch of dialogue all I see is two people standing there talking. Sometimes I try to write in whatever movements they’d have, but there are so many emotions out there that it’s hard to find.
Eventually, I did sort of plug in and beg Google for help and I discovered The Emotion Thesaurus.
You can buy it on Amazon (or do I what I did and Google it and stumble upon a PDF copy).
It’s the best thing ever. It has a bunch of emotions like say, ‘curiosity’ and it gives you a list of physical actions, internal feelings and the mental side of things. Just flipping through entries was a great help.
My character can be sad, but now they’re not just standing in a blank room feeling sad, but they’re an actual human being doing human being things like looking down at the ground, staring into the distance, toying with the hem of their sweater (okay, I don’t know about that one) and all sorts of things that actually bring them to life.
Anyway, that was my discovery over the weekend and provided that I remember to use it, I feel like it’s going to improve my writing a lot.