A Becca Byline

*honk phwomp toodlyoot*

That was the sound of me tooting my own horn. A story I wrote was accepted by Insight magazine and has been published on their website. I'm tickled all kinds of pink. Check it out if you feel so inclined.

*giggles giddily*

Setting Description Entry: Desert

Sight

A landscape of sand, flat, harsh sunlight, cacti, tumbleweeds, dust devils, cracked land, crumbing rock, sandstone, canyons, wind-worn rock formations, tracks, dead grasses, vibrant desert blooms (after rainfall), flash flooding, dry creek beds, crackled mud, vultures, jackrabbits, coyotes, wolves, desert dogs, black night sky, bright stars, glowing moon, dead trees, wide open sky, far off mountains, haze, oasis, heat waves, desolate, empty, forbidding, snakes, lizards, aloe vera, sand storms, sun-bleached bones or skulls, hawks, stunted bushes, wasteland, barren, yarrow, water hole, pass, dunes, halls, thorns, clay



Sounds

Wind (whistling, howling, piping, tearing, weaving, winding, gusting), birds cawing, flapping, squawking, the fluttering shift of feasting birds, screeching eagles, the sound of one's own steps, heavy silence, baying wild dogs, the night sounds of predator and prey


Smells

arid air, dust, one's own sweat and body odor, dry baked earth, carrion



Tastes

grit, dust, dry mouth & tongue, warm flat canteen water, copper taste in mouth, bitter taste of insects for eating, stringy wild game (hares, rats) the tough saltiness of hardtack, biscuits or jerky, an insatible thirst or hunger



Touch

Torrid heat, sweat, cutting wind, cracked lips, freezing cold (night) hard packed ground, rocks, gritty sand, shivering, swiping away dirt and sweat, pain from split lips and dehydration, numbness in legs, heat/pain from sun stroke, clothes stiff from dirt, blisters rubbing against boots, chafing





Helpful hints:


--The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.

Example 1: When I started my journey across the winding dunes of sand, the sky was clear blue glass. Now, as I stagger toward mountains growing no bigger despite three days of walking, that blue glass is marred by flecks of swirling ash...vultures waiting for their next meal.


Example 2: On my bed of stones, I shivered and turned my back to the fierce wind. Hours earlier I would have given my soul for a tender breeze, now, teeth chattering worse than the dead of winter, I longed for the sun's merciless kiss.


--Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.

Example 1: The dust devil swirled across the canyon like a rattlesnake on the hunt.(Simile)


Example 2: I dug my boot into the cracked mud; the only thing left to show a creek once flowed here was a single clump of still-damp clay, a breadcrumb too minuscule to offer sustenance.(Metaphor)

Emotion Thesaurus Entry: Reluctance

· A hard, obvious swallow
· Wetting the lips and giving a jerky nod of assent
· Hands half-curling into fists, then straightening
· A grimace, a pained look
· Eyebrows squeezing together, a focused inward look of discomfort
· Hand fluttering to the lips or neck, as if to cover
· Nervous habits (running a hand through the hair, pacing, rubbing one's hands together)
· Jumpiness
· Moving toward an exit, creating distance from another
· Changing the topic, diverting attention
. Closed body language (hands up in front, feet poised to back up or turn away)



Good news! This sample has been expanded and streamlined into book form! The full list of physical, internal, and mental cues for this and 74 other emotions can be found in The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression, available for purchase at AmazonBarnes & NobleiTunes, and Smashwords. The PDF is also downloadable via the Paypal button in the sidebar. 

Book Review: Self-Editing for Fiction Writers

I wanted to write a post on realistic dialogue, so I started by grabbing my Bible (ie, dog-eared copy of Self-Editing for Fiction Writers) and realized just how often I quote this book. I figured I should probably plug it before I go any further.

Ahem.

This book is, hands down, the best book I've read so far on editing. Here's why:

It's relevant. Each chapter covers an area of writing that authors struggle with: show and tell, characterization, point of view, dialogue mechanics, voice. There are twelve chapters altogether, and from this sampling you can see how helpful the topics are.

It's user-friendly. In other words, the chapters are short. Lame, I know, but when I'm reading non-fiction, particularly on a topic like editing where I not only have to understand what I'm reading but also figure out how to apply it, I can only take in so much at a time. The chapters are just the right length for me to read one and mull it over before moving on to the next.

It has checklists. Woot! Lists! Right now, there are three different lists on my kitchen counter (grocery, Home Depot, events for this week). Lists make everything easier, and the checklists in this book are no exception. Each chapter ends with questions you can use to edit your own writing. For instance, here's the first bullet in the characterization checklist: Look back over a scene or chapter that introduces one or more characters. How much time, if any, have you spent describing the new characters' character? Are you telling us about characteristics that will later show up in dialogue and action? And this is just one bullet of four for this chapter. The checklists are so helpful that I created a master list by compiling them all into a Word document. (This was back when I had no life.)

It's credible. The authors, Renni Browne and Dave King, have both been professional editors for years. They know what they're talking about.

Editing used to be a frustrating, where-do-I-start, how-do-I-know-what-to-look-for process for me. Now I'm able to methodically edit one chapter or scene at a time. It has made things soooo much easier.

There are only a few resource books that I consider vital to my writing. This one's at the top of my list. Check it out.

Setting Description Entry: Forest



Sight

green, brown, dead fall, fallen trees, logs, branches, twigs, fallen leaves, ferns, underbrush, moss, brambles, thickets, ivy, berry bushes, pine needles, pine cones, acorns, insects, rabbits, birds, squirrels, lizards, mice, foxes, spider webs, deer, sun-dappled, shady, shafts of light, branches blowing, deer paths, dark, thick, thin, sparse, colorful, rose hips, flowers, bird nests, shifting patterns of light, cool, trunks covered with moss, bugs, stillness, beetles, grass hassock, cave, rocky, moist, ravines, creek, steam, melting snow patches/snow covered ground, willows, oak trees, sap crusts, aspen, spruce boughs, seeds, pods, decay, wild mushrooms, toadstools,

Sounds
branches creaking, feet shuffling through detritus, squirrels chattering, leaves rustling, wind whistling around trunks/disturbing the leaves, birds singing, insects humming/ churring, rustle of animals rooting in underbrush, scrabbling of lizards on tree bark, limbs crashing to the ground, still, quiet, crackling underfoot, breaking branches, clattering leaves, soughing wind, groaning trees, squawking birds, hostile screeches from animals, panting, barking yips, ruffling, ticking, tapping, rattling, shake, shiver, grating, the beat of paws against a path, harmonic, rhythm

Smells
tree smells (pine, etc), wildflowers, earthy smell, animal scents, rotting wood, fresh, stale, dry, damp, wet, scents on the wind from nearby places (water, wood smoke, ocean), wild mint/herbs, decay (bogs, stagnant pools of water, dead animals), skunks, skunk weed, whiff, waft, musk, spoor, stench, subtle, fetid, foul, acrid, sweet, rancid, cedar, ripe, sharp

Tastes
earthy air, sweet/sour berries, nuts, mushrooms, wild onions, seeds, bitter, mint, gritty, mealy, meaty, relish, savor, sample, salty, acidic, sweet, flavorful, sour, tart, flavorless, swallow, mild, nutty, relish, rose hips, cranberries, pine needle tea, edible leaves, bark, roots

Touch
rough tree bark, kiss of falling leaves, branches slapping, uneven ground, knobby roots underfoot, sticky sap, underbrush that tangles/grabs, prickle of briars, slick leaves, twigs snagging at hair/scratching face, tickle of hanging moss, spider web strands on skin, soft breeze, strong gale winds, utter stillness, cold, warm, sweaty hot, humid, feeling of claustrophobia, wind against sweaty face, ruffling through hair, grass sliding against legs, uneven ground, moisture seeping into boots, mud, rocks/pine needles/small twigs getting stuck in shoes, hot, muggy, thick unmoving air, sticky clothes, spongy ground, scratchy moss, slimy lichen

Helpful hints:

--The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.

Example 1: I lifted my face, letting the light and shadow dance across my skin. Bees hummed in and out of the pennyroyal. I inhaled its minty smell and continued on, delighting in the sound of my feet sliding through the leaves.

Example 2: The light was fading, creating new shadows and dark patches around me. Eyes glimmered from tree hollows. The wind wailed between distorted trunks, carrying the sickly stink of wood rot. I moved faster, ignoring the briars that caught at my jeans, the damp leaves that grimed my skin.

--Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.

Example 1: (Simile) The trees lashed and crashed against each other like drum sticks in the hands of a giant.

Example 2: (Metaphor) The trees stood utterly still, statues in a living museum where no leaf dared to fall.

Does your setting take place at night? Check out this similar Entry: WOODS AT NIGHT

Emotion Thesaurus Entry: Hopelessness/Depression

· Actions grow mechanical, lose meaning
· Very little energy is put into doing tasks
· Pays no attention to appearance, appearance degrades
· Requires direction from others, even for simple things
· A lack of interest in the feelings of others
· A desire to curl up and sleep to 'escape'
· A lack of energy or strength due to a loss of will
· A bland or blank expression
· Stopping to sit or lie down in extreme danger, dropping to the ground
· A loss of coordination if walking or running (a stumbling gait, wooden steps)
· Voicing a negative outlook or outcome
· Appearing to rapidly age (if depression is ongoing)
· No appetite/may stop eating all together
· Retreats inward, difficult for others to rouse
· Numbness, both mentally and physically
· Inconsolable weeping
· Staring off at nothing
· Non responsive to voices of loved ones or their presence
· Avoidance of life (staying in bed, refusing to dress or to leave room or house in general)
· A noticeably diminished presence to others
· Extreme Melancholy
· Forgetfulness
· Disconnecting from family, community and society
· Rumpled/slept in clothing, may wear same outfit for days at a time
· Poor personal hygiene, may require prompting from others or assistance to care for oneself
· No concept of time
· Weight loss, muscle tone grows flaccid from inactivity
· Cannot account for actions (experiences missing time)
· Requires assistance from others to attend appointments, eat, care for children or pets, etc
· Slipping into a catatonic type 'zone'
· Bouts of crying or mania
· Suicidal tendencies, looking for a quicker 'end' to the current situation
· Requires hospitalization (intervention from family)

Creating Atmosphere

I thought with the launch of our new Setting Thesaurus, I'd take a quick look at how setting description can transcend to convey atmosphere through the deft manipulation of the five senses.

First off, what is Atmosphere?

Atmosphere is the mood created through the deliberate description of setting. Depending on the emotion you wish to evoke in your reader during a scene, the description can be slanted to reinforce what you want to project.

Let's say your scene involves a character exploring an abandoned school for clues of criminal activity to solve a mystery. The description you show regarding the school should affect what emotion your audience feels as they read.

If you're trying to create an atmosphere for tension and fear, showing your character draw a line in the dust over a heart with MB + TW Forever carved on one of the desks or noting how the chalk and erasers lined up at the board look like they're waiting to be picked up isn't the way to achieve it. Instead your reader will feel melancholy and sadness that this school once so full of potential has now become obsolete.

But what if the encounter happened at night? Watery moonlight would filter through the smeared windows, blurring the edges of the desks. Shadows would sprawl out from the corners and curl through the room, and the stillness would be broken by ominous creaking. The protest of an abandoned building, or perhaps something else?

This type of description is closer to creating the right atmosphere for tension and fear.

Tips on creating atmosphere

1) Never forget the sense of hearing

Sounds trigger memories, so if you choose a sound to describe your setting that has obvious context (like a creaky old building) the reader will immediately recognize it and internalize it into a personal sensory image.


2) Use visual clues to lead the reader toward what is coming


Think The Sixth Sense here. (Spoiler Alert!) There were many clues that pointed to the fact that Dr. Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) was actually dead (the color red being present only when the dead were featured; how all of his clothing were combinations of what he wore the day he was shot; how no one spoke to him or seemed to notice his presence but the boy Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment) etc). Each of these were clues leading to the truth and the ultimate revelation of his death. Similarly in writing, what you choose to describe in the setting should also harmonize with what the scene is about, and lead the reader toward recognition and empathy of the characters' emotions.

3) Lighting is important

We need to look no further than the film industry to know how lighting can create atmosphere. How many love stories take place in well-lit rooms, on a sun-drenched beach or a warm, sunny park? Alternatively, how many horror films take place on dark and stormy nights when the power mysteriously goes out, leaving everyone fumbling in the darkness?

A simple shadow falling across a person's face can change the way they look dramatically, and the same can be done in your scene. Make the lighting work for you.

4) The sense of smell is evocative

A path in the forest reeking of mouldering leaves and rotting dead fall creates a different mental picture than one filled with the scent of sweet wildflowers and sharp pine needles.

5) Chose each word with intent

The language choices you make will greatly affect atmosphere. Pick words that deliberately convey the meaning you're going for. Strong verbs, nouns and modifiers mean you can say more using less words.

The mood and atmosphere you create should enhance what your characters are experiencing in any given scene, drawing the reader more tightly into the story. Vivid, tactile description plant the reader into the setting and leave them sympathetic to the plight of your characters.

What do you take into consideration when creating a mood or atmosphere?

Introducing Sensory Saturday…Meet Our New Thesaurus!

Many elements go into creating a successful novel, but one of the most important is Setting. For a reader to relate to the current action, they need a physical anchor to tie the characters to. It can be difficult, finding the right words to convey a sense of place. The right description can create a rich image for the reader, involve them in the action and heighten atmosphere and mood. Poor description leaves the reader struggling for a visual and disconnected from the characters and action.

So how do we achieve great setting description? Two words, people: Sensory information. The five senses Sight, Touch, Smell, Taste and Sound are key to involving the reader, because they transform descriptive word choices into experiences.

Let’s look at the difference sensory description can make.

Brenna dropped onto the park bench and leaned back, glad to finally be off her feet. One more minute inside Richards & Associates and her head might have exploded. She rolled her neck from side to side, loosening the kinks. So far, things did not bode well for her new job; the way today was going, her first day might also be her last. Only the view of the pretty greenery from her thirty-seventh floor window had kept her going until lunch.

This spot in the shade was much to warm for the suit jacket her new job required her to wear, so she stripped it off and then dug out the leftover pasta salad she’d brought from home. The wares from the hot dog cart stationed on the other side of the park fountain looked much more appealing that the mush trapped inside her Tupperware. Sure, why not? she thought, and returned her lunch to her satchel. After all, I might not even be here tomorrow.


Devil’s advocate says: What’s the big deal—it’s a park. Seen one, seen them all. I get an instant image, so don’t waste my time with sensory fluffery!

Okay, so let’s look at the same passage written with stronger language and more sensory description:

Brenna dropped onto the park bench and slipped off her shoes, letting the cool grass knead her swollen feet. Her head tipped back—absolute heaven. One more minute inside Richards & Associates and her head might have exploded. Things did not bode well for the first day on the job.

Laughter rang out from the park’s small stone fountain, where a mother stood within reach of two toddlers wading in the knee-deep water. Brenna smiled and shrugged out of her suit jacket, wishing she could join them.

As Brenna dug in her satchel for her lunch of leftover pasta salad, the wind shifted, bringing the salty aroma of hot dogs. Her stomach grumbled, urging her to forget the mush inside her Tupperware and visit the hot dog cart near the park entrance instead. Sure, why not? she thought. I might not even be here tomorrow.


Do you see the difference? Reading the first one, I feel like an observer. The second, I feel involved, connected by common experiences. I can smell those hot dogs, and I know exactly how it feels to stick my sore feet into soft grass, I also smile when I see kids having a good time. (If you would like more information on why sensory description is so important in creating an emotional connection in your readers, please check out this great post at Headdesk!)

BTW, did you notice that the second passage has less words than the first? This is because stronger imagery means fewer words are needed to show the same thing.

Great writing consists of concrete description--description that can be seen, touched, tasted, smelled or heard. Abstract description is bland and cannot be sensitized. For example, if I say a tree is 'beautiful', well what does that really mean? There's no concrete picture associated with 'beautiful' because everyone has their own standards and opinions of what beautiful is.

However, if I describe the sharp prickle of pine as I inhale, show the reaching, sun-lit branches and how the ancient furrowed bark embodies a sense of time and patience, the reader will know I feel the tree is beautiful without me ever having to say it. Strong language and concrete description is what we need to master to be effective writers.

Which brings us to the new Setting Description Thesaurus!

Each Saturday we will explore a common setting location and list out possibilities for description using strong associative language and the five senses. We hope to cover everything from deserts and mountains to basements and playgrounds. You in turn can use it as an idea bank when describing your own settings, but remember that all description should be used like seasoning. Choose a few powerful details to give the setting texture, not paragraphs or pages that will encourage the reader to skim.

We also encourage you to stretch yourself to include more smells, sounds and tastes in your writing--not all blobbed together of course, but often using one smell as a concrete description is more powerful than three lines of what your character sees. These three senses tend to be underutilized, and create a powerful impact when your reader makes that emotional connection through personal recognition, like the smell of hot dogs.

We hope you find this thesaurus just as handy as the Emotion Thesaurus. If you have a setting you’re struggling with, feel free to let us know. The current list of settings can be found in the sidebar, next to the Emotion Thesaurus.

PLEASE NOTE: these entries are pure imagination. :) Location, climate and access to technology will cause variations, so please do further research if you don't have first hand experience to make sure details are accurate. I know, it's common sense, but someone out there might assume we have actually been to all of these places. Thanks! :)

Setting Description Entry: River



Sight

Eddies, dripping branches, current, glossy, darting shapes, water striders, leaf-dappled, twisting flow, drag, silt, reeds, bowed willows, shadows, sparkling, mirror, bent grasses, carve, clash, boulders, ripples, carry, twigs, debris, gliding birds, minnows, fish, smooth stones, slime, weeds, ducklings, drifting, lazy, tepid, mud, churning flow, winding, clover banks, wild flowers, floating petals, shale, gravel, plunging waters, seep, reflection, dragonflies, slosh, sparkle, brook, ford, spray, shimmer, mossy, sluice, bank, shore, sandy, cracked mud, polluted waters, oil-slick, glide, dead fall, float, dam, deadwood, plunge, destructive, torrent, hurling, basin, head, fork, meander, salmon, beavers, rapids, swift, swollen

Sounds

Frothing, crashing, clash, splashing, chuckling, burbling, tumbling, rush, trickle, gurgle, roar, simmer, murmur, rumble, clash, glug, warble, thundering, musical, gushing, din, bird calls, chattering squirrels, buzzing flies or bees, animals scampering through nearby undergrowth

Smells

Algae-scented, briny, wet earth, dank, musty, reek, fetid, rank, fresh, clean, pungent, wildflowers, grass, clover, rotting deadfall or leaves

Tastes

Cold, quenching, thirsty, numbing, tang, sip, sweet, bitter, mineral-rich, impure, oily, gulp, coppery, swig, sharp, fishy, brackish, tart, brassy, stale, sharp, bite

Touch

Silken, smooth rocks, slippery, wet, chill, shock, soak, icy, warm, simmering, gritty, ticklish, sleek, cool, fluid, caressing, soothing, pulling, strength, powerful, brisk, jolt, stun, numbing, nip, freezing


Helpful hints:

--The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.

Example 1: I stumbled up the hill, my body baked as dry as the land I'd crossed. Flashes of liquid light winked through the trees ahead and my legs tremored. Cocking my head, I heard it at last: the gentle burble of salvation.

Example 2: As instructed in the stranger's note, I waited at the end of Rogan's Dock with only the moon above as company. Below me, the swollen spring waters churned against the pilings, fighting to escape into the flatland beyond the mountain. The boards beneath my feet groaned and I shifted uneasily. One misstep, and the darkness would swallow a man whole.

--Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.

Example 1: Long after the sun set, the frothing current swept past, dark as molasses. (Simile)

Example 2: The river was an angry dragon, snapping and thrashing its tail against the eroded banks. (Metaphor)

Emotion Thesaurus Entry: Defeat

· A lack of energy
· Holding the head in the hands
· Blank eyes that are devoid of hope
· Short, clipped answers: "Fine." "No." "Who cares."
· An emotionless tone
· Crying, often accompanied by silence
· Not responding to others' attempts at encouragement
· A thickness in the throat
· A voice that cracks
· A slow shake of the head
· Disconnecting from others
· Not responding to aggression or verbal attacks
· Losing all enjoyment in everyday things
· An unkempt appearance
· Looking worn, appearing older as a result of the current situation


Good news! This sample has been expanded and streamlined into book form! The full list of physical, internal, and mental cues for this and 74 other emotions can be found in The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression, available for purchase at AmazonBarnes & NobleiTunes, and Smashwords. The PDF is also downloadable via the Paypal button in the sidebar. 

Something New is Coming...

...and it's pretty cool.

*whispers*

The Bookshelf Muse is close to unveiling another special Thesaurus for writers. Trust me, I'd love to spill all the details right now in this post, but if I do, I'd never hear the end of it from Becca. What kind of writerly example are you setting, Angela? Where's the tension building? What about a cliffhanger ending?

So, you see the bind I'm in. I could probably mention that SATURDAY might be an interesting day. Like for example, a good day to check in here at The Bookshelf Muse. You know, if you just happen to be sitting in front of the computer with a few free minutes.

*glances around for Becca and speaks louder*

All right people, nothing to see here--move along. I'm sure you all have some serious drafting and editing to do. Don't forget about adding that tension to your writing! Yeah, good ol' tension--that's the ticket, all right.

(Do you think she heard us?)

Showing vs Telling, Part Two

I've emerged from Motherhood Exile and have decided to just pick up where I left off. My last post dealt with showing vs. telling. It defined each technique and explained why telling is usually not the best way to go and why showing is to be preferred. Now we're going to move on to the application part of this topic: finding those pesky telling parts and showing them instead.

How Do I Identify Telling in my Own Writing?
1. Look for emotional words: angry, sad, horrified, jealous. In most cases, when these words are written out, they've been used to tell the reader how a character feels instead of showing the emotion.
2. Be conscious of places where something has been explained. In my writing, this is almost always a short sentence that gives a concise summary. Looking at your writing in this way takes practice; when Angela and I crit each others' work, we're always reminding each other to RUE (Resist the Urge to Explain)—a term we shamelessly stole from Browne & King's Self-Editing for Fiction Writers. It may take time, but when you edit with this in mind, you start to recognize these places in your writing.
3. Check longer narrative passages to see if something is being told rather than shown. This usually occurs when an author is explaining a unique element that the reader may be unfamiliar with (such as in sci-fi or fantasy), or when giving historical information that affects the current story.

How Do I Show Instead of Tell?
1. Think of ways to get your information across through the context of the current story. Instead of stopping to explain that a character has issues with her father, show their dysfunction over breakfast or a heated phone call. This will show the reader that the two characters don't get along without you having to say it and without interrupting the flow of the story.
2. Use sensory details to draw the reader in. Example:

Nerien ran down the hall, his feet stinging as they struck the cold stone floor. In the dark, he misjudged the stairway and jammed his toes into the bottom step. Glass shattered in the darkness above. He barely heard it over Ma, screaming for him now. He hurtled out of the stairway and into her room.

In this example, I could have simply said that he ran upstairs. But I wanted the reader to be sucked in, to feel his fear and take the journey with him. Note the details that involve the reader's senses: the cold floor, jamming his toes into the step, shattering glass, screaming. Whenever possible, use sensory descriptors to make the scene come alive for the reader.
3. Use specific words that lend themselves to the exact mood you're trying to set. In the above example, glass didn't break, it shattered; Nerien didn't enter the room, he hurtled into it; his feet didn't hurt, they stung.
4. Use comparisons that are specific to the character. In the previous post, I used an example of Dara on the bridge; in that example, the comparison of the trapped branch parallels Dara's feeling of being trapped and choking. The bridge and river are recognizable elements in Dara's life, specific to her. Find the comparisons that are specific to your character and they'll be believable to the reader.

When Is Telling the Right Choice?
There are times when telling is appropriate, like when you simply want to state something without going into great detail—something that maybe needs to be said but isn't of monumental importance to the story. Telling can also be used for effect: it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. And of course, if your character's voice calls for short, snappy, telling sentences, then by all means, tell away. Remember that show-don't-tell is a guideline, not a hard and fast rule. If you want to tell instead, then go for it. Just make sure you've got a reason for doing it.

Emotion Thesaurus Entry: Impatience

· Clicking one's fingernails against a table
· Narrowing eyes, a look of intense focus that can be mistaken for anger
· A sharp tone, using as few words as possible to answer
· Attention that snaps toward small sounds or movement
· Complaining to others or mumbling under one's breath: "Where is he?" or "What is taking so long?"
· Fussing with one's appearance (brushing lint from a sleeve, applying lip gloss)
· Feeling exhausted or strained to the limits
· Whining, grumbling, or pouting (small children)
· Changing places to wait (crossing a room, going from sitting to standing, choosing a different chair)
· Muttering, shaking the head, talking to oneself
· Tilting the head to the ceiling and letting out a heavy sigh
· Uncrossing and recrossing one's legs
· Veiled anger or light sarcasm

Both Annoyance and Frustration are by-products of impatience, and can exhibit similar actions when expressing this emotion. If you need more ideas, be sure to check them out!


Good news! This sample has been expanded and streamlined into book form! The full list of physical, internal, and mental cues for this and 74 other emotions can be found in The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression, available for purchase at AmazonBarnes & NobleiTunes, and Smashwords. The PDF is also downloadable via the Paypal button in the sidebar. 

StumbledUpon Writing Links

I recently discovered Stumbleupon, a webtool that brings up random web pages based on your interests when you feel like seeing what's out there on the WWW. If you choose to, you can mark these pages with a 'I like it/I don't like it' rating, which helps Stumbleupon refine your 'stumbles' closer and closer to the type of pages you generally like most. It does the thinking for you and in my case, has come up with some fantastic pages.

I added Stumbleupon to my toolbar a few days ago, with the settings, 'Writing' and 'Linguistics.' Now, I am an ADDICT. I have found some really great sites through this webtool and I want to share them with you.

Now these links aren't your typical, 'learn how to writer better' type pages. These are some writing sites that can become valuable writing tools for you while planning, drafting and editing.

Keep an eye on this list, as I'll add to it as I discover new and interesting links!

-- The Non Verbal Dictionary of Gestures, Signs, Body Language and Cues You can look up a specific action like shrugging, a head tilt, crossing the arms, etc and find out what the action is most commonly used for and what it signals to other people. A great companion to the Emotion Thesaurus.

--Writing Realistic Injuries Everything you need to know about injuries and their symptoms (burns, blood loss, broken bones, head trauma, the works).

--Visuwords An online visual thesaurus that outstrips any I've seen available on the net. It's free as far as I can tell, uses colors and symbols to show what every associated word is (adjective, noun, verb, etc), how the words relate to each other and meanings of each word. AND this puppy has way cool 'word bubbles' that you can move around, zoom in on and generally have fun with as you find the right word you're looking for.

--Food Timeline Need to know what foods were eaten in the first century? When potato salad was invented? What people in Shakespeare's time ate? This is the place! Scroll down for more historic recipes and the price of certain foods at different time periods.

--Cliche Finder Just type in some of your work and this tool will find the cliche's for you--what could be easier?

--Confusing Words Think affect/effect; lie/lay type stuff. Here you can type in the word you're having trouble with and it'll help you by showing you how and when to use it, as well as the words it's usually confused with. Coolness!

--Synonyms for Commonly Used Words This is pretty neat, especially if you're in a hurry.

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