Ackerman and Puglisi Core Books

A Thesaurus Series for Showy Writers

Many writers are familiar with the mantra of Show, Don’t Tell. Exactly what it means is a subject that is up for debate, and not what this post is about. Nope. This post is looking at a few resources for writers that are designed to help writers show their stories.

I am talking about the Thesaurus series by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi.

Let me start by saying that I’m not getting anything out of promoting these books. They are on my list of recommended books for writers, because I honestly feel that they are brilliant resources that every writer serious about writing fiction should invest in. Let me explain why.

When we talk about show, we are talking about the elements that might give the impression of a certain feel or setting without telling readers what a character is feeling. The simplest example I can give is a character that might be sad. One who is sad might have drooped shoulders, red puffy eyes, or lethargic movements. However, long-term sadness can lead to lack of appetite or despondency. Those who are ignoring their sad feelings might constantly find a way to change the subject or have pained, false smiles.

Understanding how a character might react to a given situation is what show is all about, but some of the contextual clues can elude the writer during the writing or editing phase.

Ackerman and Puglisi Full Series

This is the full Thesaurus series by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. These are my personal copies that live on my desk within easy reach of my keyboard. (Emotion Amplifiers is only available in digital format, but a PDF version can be purchased from the Writers Helping Writers website.)

Enter the Thesaurus series by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. These books are just a list of various clues that you might incorporate into your writing to build a setting, a character or the story as a whole.

The first book in the series was The Emotion Thesaurus. This book provides a whole range of ways that a person my display certain emotions, including all of the ways that I described for sad above. Then you have Emotion Amplifiers, which is very much like the Emotion Thesaurus, but available in digital format only. (Hint: you can find a PDF version for sale on the Writers Helping Writers website. It’s worth the nominal charge. I gladly purchased a copy and had it printed and spiral bound to keep on the shelf next to the other books in the series.)

You have The Positive Trait Thesaurus and The Negative Trait Thesaurus which focus on different character traits, such as empathy or impatience, and how these might present — with examples from film. Then there is The Urban Setting Thesaurus and The Rural Setting Thesaurus to help writers bring settings to life, complete with scent and visuals.

Ackerman and Puglisi Core Books

The Emotion Thesaurus and The Emotional Wounds Thesaurus. (I adore these books, but I have to admit that the red cover is difficult to photograph.)

The latest book to be added to the series is The Emotional Wound Thesaurus. Understanding a character’s motivations and what drives them is the key to good writing. This book will help you develop a character into something that is more than just words on paper. Honestly, this book is worth every penny I spent on it — and some. In fact, in my opinion, this book has only one flaw: its red cover. (It makes it hard to photograph.)

The books I have in easy reach.

These are the books I keep within easy reach of my keyboard. Notice how the entire Thesaurus series is there. (Emotion Amplifiers is one of the spiral books.)

People, these books ARE worth having on the shelf. If you look closely at the photos in this post, you’ll see that I have sticky tabs hanging out of my personal copies. I use these books ALL THE TIME. While I have digital copies of The Emotion Thesaurus and Emotion Amplifies on my Kindle, I highly recommend printed versions (if you can afford it). These books live within easy reach of my keyboard. They are well structured to quickly find the information you need, without delving into a mountain of text. Of all the resources that are listed on my recommended resources page, don’t pass by these ones.

It doesn’t matter if you are writing fantasy, science fiction, thrillers, romance, or literary works. If you are a fiction writer, you NEED these books. If you don’t believe me, just take of a look at the samples pages that can be found on this website (via links to Amazon).

(I’m stepping down from the soapbox now, and eagerly waiting for the next book in this series.)

Series: The Thesaurus Series by Ackerman & Puglisi

Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi have worked hard to compile a series of thesauruses for writers, all aimed at helping writers to develop the skills and talents. Show a story. Show the setting. Show the character growth. For other works and writers’ resources by these two talented women, visit

Emotion Amplifiers
The Rural Setting Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Personal and Natural Places
The Urban Setting Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to City Spaces
The Negative Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Flaws
The Positive Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Attributes (Writers Helping Writers)
The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Expression
The Emotional Wound Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Psychological Trauma

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© Copyright, Judy L Mohr 2018

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