Emotion Thesaurus Entry: Embarrassment

• coughing
• stuttering, stammering
• speechlessness
• looking down, unable to meet another's eyes
• shoulders slumping, slouching, sagging, hunching
• a desire to run away
• glancing about as if for an exit or escape
• angry or knee-jerk reactions (lashing out, taking a cheap shot, name calling)
• gritting one's teeth, pressing the lips tight
• keeping a death grip on backpack straps, gripping school books against the chest
• rapidly walking away, keeping the head down
• excessive swallowing
• muddied or panicked thoughts
• lightheadedness, tingling in the chest or stomach
• pretending to not have heard or seen
• using long hair to hide the face

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. 


WordWrangler said...

VERY nice list. We are reading "Self Editing for Fiction Writers" and the first chapter was "show not tell". These are a great resource. I'm going to share your blog with my crit group!


Angela said...

Please do! I love Self Editing for Fiction writers. I've read it several times, and each time find new stuff to pull into my writing. Thanks for visiting!

Angela said...

Also, I don't know if your crit group uses Jacketflap, but we are registered over there if that makes it easier.

Bish Denham said...

These are great! Thanks for sharing.

Becca said...

Hi, Donna! I also love Self Editing for Fiction Writers; I use it everytime I start revisions on a new book. It's so useful, in fact, that I compiled a checklist of all the revision points that come at the end of each chapter. If you'd like a copy, shoot me your email address :).

Sera Phyn said...

These lists are fantastic! They're just detailed enough to be helpful and just vague enough to force you to alter the examples. Wonderful!

I have an emotion request, though, if you're willing. Shock/surprise both the positive and negative sides of the emotion. Willing to take the challenge? ;)

Keep it up Becca and Angela!
<3 Sera

Angela said...

Hey, we're all about challenges. We'll add the idea to our emotion list of ones to be added!

Sera Phyn said...

Yay! I look forward to seeing more of these! I'm always looking for new ways to show emotion. When writing, especially my first drafts, I tend to fall back on the same group of actions. For my novel Fallen, my mom even asked me why three of my characters had an"eye rolling disease". LoL!

Keep up the great work!

Becca said...

Ugh. I'm so guilty of the eye-roll. Other favorites: head nodding, chairs scraping across floors, and the all-expressive sigh.


C.L. Young said...

Does tugging at a necktie count as pulling at the collar on the list of how to express embarrassment?

Jandalf said...

One of my favourite descriptions of embarrassment comes right out of the first page of Neal Stephenson's Anathem.

"Embarrassment is something I can feel in my flesh, like a handful of sun-warmed mud clapped on my head.... The embarrassment had turned runny. It was horrifying my scalp along a spreading frontier."


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