My experiment with the Emotion Thesaurus

For those of you who didn’t read this post from two weeks ago on this same blog, we started talking about how difficult it can be to portray emotion when you are writing because it’s hard to think of new ways to show an emotion and after a while, when all your characters do is stomp their feet or glare at each other to show they’re angry, your writing really gets stale.

Barbara made a comment that she had found this site, the Bookshelf Muse, which has done all of our hard work for us, writers!  Seriously, if you didn’t follow her link, please do yourself a favor and take a moment to click over.  You’ll regret it if you don’t!  What the site does is list various reactions that show a certain emotion and they are adding new ones all the time.  They also have other thesauruses -es-us-es with such things as colors, character traits, weather, and it looks like this is a constantly expanding resource!

Anyway, I mentioned in my reply to her original comment that I would work on revising a scene and hopefully be brave enough to post it for you all to see how the thesaurus helped me with it.  So, here you go.  Now, this part of the scene is pretty rough before I revised it.   You will definitely see some spots that need some improvement.  The scene isn’t terrible, but it certainly doesn’t do anything to show her character, Doyle’s character, or draw the reader further into the story.

Just to let you know, Sunny has asked Doyle, the butler, to take her on a tour of the castle in response to some things Riordan said about how run-down the place is.  They are just starting out and the first thing Doyle comments on is the age of the various wings and parts of the castle and points out where the stone is a different color, thus separating the “new part” from the “old part.”

Original scene:

Sunny nodded, trying to absorb the dates.   She looked with some interest at the stone colors.  They were similar, but if she looked closely, the older stone was definitely darker.  “Was the new stone from a different area?”

“No, Miss.  It was from the same quarry down by the lake.  It is just the smoke from the fireplaces that darkened it.  The stone originally was, I believe, a very pale gray.”

Sunny was surprised.  Some of the stones were so dark they were almost black.  Of course, hundreds of years of smoke exposure could probably do that.

(yada, yada, yada)

“Why do they call my room the Rose Room?” she asked, anxious to change the subject.

He looked at her sort of strangely. “There are roses in the wallpaper.  It has always been that way.”

Okay, now looking at this scene I saw multiple spots where I had told, rather than shown.  First of all, I announced that Sunny was trying to absorb the dates.  Then I said she was surprised.  Then I said she was anxious.  Then I had Doyle looking at her strangely which tells the reader nothing, although I had always pictured him as really exasperated and kind of thinking, “what are you, an idiot?” without actually saying it.  (He is a butler!)

Part 2 will be posted tomorrow, showing the process I went through to find my “showing” actions as well as the revised scene.    Make sure you come back to see if I succeeded in changing all my telling to showing.

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About susannahsharp

I'm pursuing a life-long dream of writing now, something I am really enjoying. My first book should be out by Christmas. I want to blog about all things Irish; offering some book reviews for romantic, not smutty, books; and also things pertaining to reading and writing.
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2 Responses to My experiment with the Emotion Thesaurus

  1. Pingback: My scene again, revised after using the Emotion Thesaurus | Susannah Sharp

  2. Thanks so much for getting the word out about this fabulous resource. What a treasure! And good luck with your writing. I saw your class announcement with savvy authors, but will have to catch you next time (it looks like a great topic).

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