I’ve been woefully lax this month because much of my focus has been on work and the health issues the Ol’ Man has been suffering, and I’ve been playing valet, chauffeur, cook, and housemaid for M’Lord. It feels a little like Downton Abbey, but without the drama — just a tremendous amount of drudgery.

While perusing my emails, when I’m not checking on the pathetic patient, I came across one from an IWW member who wrote about where one can find how to describe a location. Thanks to Holly Michael’s blog Writing Straight and her recent entry, Location. Location. Location. Description. Description, a little bell chimed in my head, reminding me that I should make it a habit to visit more often The Bookshelf Muse.

I’m fairly good at describing locations, but I’m have a hard time coming up with a metaphor to describe an emotion. If I want to say that Corinne was giddy after she realizes that Alvah Bessie is haunting her and not a figment of her imagination … hold on a sec, giddy? Why not frightened? A couple of reasons: A) She’s not going crazy like she thought, B) For Pete’s sake, it’s ALVAH BESSIE! Okay, back to describing giddy … How can I articulate this feeling without the usual giggles of pleasure, tingly flesh, excitement at the prospect of sitting down with the great man and discussing Marx, the Spanish Civil War, and Hollywood in a way that’s original and that shows how she feels?

The Bookshelf Muse has a series of thesauri that describe emotions, color, setting, the weather, and more. Giddy isn’t listed so I looked at “Excitement/Elated” and found a long list of how to describe the emotion, which gave me some ideas of how to shape it into a metaphor (I’ll spare you, I’m still working on it). And if the thesauri isn’t enough, there are several links that will help you craft your masterpiece such as:

The Nonverbal Dictionary  has images and definitions of gestures, body language cues and signs. Click on a word, and you’ll get an image, a definition and some research notes. The site has been compiled with research by anthropologists, archaeologists,biologists, linguists, psychiatrists, psychologists, semioticians, and others who have studied human communication from a scientific point of view.

World Building provides you with even more links with varied information from historical hairstyles to the types sword.

Detecting Lies has a great table with cues on how to detect a liar. It includes the most common inconsistency in fibbing but also body cues that we don’t normally think about when we’re writing like blinking rapidly or moving the body in a jerky fashion.

The Onelook Reverse Dictionary lets you describe a concept and get back a list of words and phrases related to that concept. Your description can be a few words, a sentence, a question, or even just a single word.

I’m looking forward to getting back into the swing of things (although I suspect there will be more breaks until the Ol’ Man’s health issues are resolved and I am relieved of my nursing and scullery maid duties) and use these sources for my own oeuvre. In the meantime, between the jingling bell and the onslaught of demands, I will continue to find more resources, bookmark them, and share the ones that I think are valuable.


  • Wow, what a nice shout out for The Bookshelf Muse. I’m glad to see that you find so much of it useful. We’ve just hit 3k followers and are holding a contest to thank everyone for their support, so pop on over and sign up if you’d like your own copy of enhanced print version of The Emotion Thesaurus before it’s released in April. Thanks again for the great recommendation! And I hope M’Lord is feeling better soon ;).
    Becca @ The Bookshelf Muse

    •  @beccapuglisi Thanks for stopping by. You blog is a wonderful resource. I simply love it! I just popped over to your site and filled out the form. And M’Lord seems to be feeling better, he’s his typical cranky self. And that’s always a good sign (I think). 

  • I clicked on your link from Facebook’s Writer Unboxed page, and I like your website! This is a great post for me as I’m describing description with scenery and emotions and like to use metaphors. @RebecaSchiller