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.
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.
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.)
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.)
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© Copyright, Judy L Mohr 2018