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This Week on WA
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A summary of what is happening around the site... 

Blog: Vanessa has penned an informative post about using emotion more in our writing. Something many of us struggle with I should imagine! 

Monday Muses: Maggie has challenged us to write about childhood and fantasy providing some great photo's and a prompt. The world is such a magical place when your a child, it's rich picking for a story, if only I could remember that far back!

Feedback - both Angela and Alyson have posted pieces for the March Challenge and Jill, Lesley and Sue have pieces in the Works in Progress forum. If you have a minute please take a look.

The Bragging Stool is unusually vacant this past week, where are those Ad Hoccers or have I missed something. 

In the Notice Board you'll find a link for your secondary contact details if you haven't already provided it. And Angela is looking for advice about a creative writing CV.

And finally, in the Meeting Room you'll find the agenda for the meeting this coming Sunday at 4pm. And remember the clocks go forward for British Summertime!

Wear your heart on your sleeve Tags: Writers Abroad writing ex-pat writers writing emotion

The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression by [Ackerman, Angela, Puglisi,Becca]

Portraying emotion is one of the most difficult things in writing. I certainly have to work hard at it, although I have improved since I first joined Writers Abroad many moons ago. My local writing group has spent a number of sessions trying to pin down what constitutes a good portrayal of emotion.

We have each brought examples of writing from published authors. I chose the opening passages of Hannah Kent’s The Good People, which illustrate grief. We have done a number of writing exercises (you might like to try these). One involved writing about a farmer who is grieving for his dead son, but we couldn’t mention the son or his death or any words that signal emotion. Instead, we had to describe the farmer’s barn and convey in the details his sense of loss. In another exercise, we had to write about someone standing on a beach looking at the sea, but we could choose the emotion. I found both exercises difficult.

After doing a lot of work on this, we have drawn several conclusions.

  • Make readers feel with the characters and evoke a reaction. They have to feel the joy or the fear or the anger. They have to care about what happens to your characters, even if they are not sympathetic personalities.
  • This means showing what characters are feeling and not reporting it to your readers. So “thought” words like thinks, knows, understands, realises, believes, wants, remembers, imagines, desires, etc. are out. Loves and hates are also no-nos. This is bad news for me.
  • Show characters’ emotions through their interactions with other people and their environment, and their actions and gestures. This means avoiding long soliloquies, which hold up the action and drag you back into using those “thought” words. Again, bad news for me.
  • Vary the intensity of the emotions. Even in a thriller, the main character can’t be scared or apprehensive all the time. It’s as exhausting for the reader as it is for the character.

There’s a lot more to it, of course. Whole books have been written about showing and not telling. Also, if you’ve been writing for any length of time, you know all this, so I’m not telling you anything new. However, if you’re like me, you find it maddeningly difficult to do it well.

Help is at hand, though. Someone recommended to me The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. This book lists 75 emotions and suggests ways of expressing them, including body language. Want to convey anger, envy or joy? Turn to the relevant page and you have a range of helpful suggestions.

The book is a helpful starting point, but it’s always a good idea to think up your own metaphors and turns of phrase to describe emotions. If you rely too much on a primer, your creative muscle goes flabby.

Now I’m off to expunge all those “thought” words from my WiP…



This Week 12 March 2018 posted by Debbie Hubbard
Category: Site News

Blog – Maggie Shelton

Inside Lingo

Maggie hits the nail on the head when she offers us her insight on how difficult it is when we write to describe processes, even ones we think we know all about, using the precise vocab that only an insider possesses. As a driving instructor, she has all the right expressions for traffic situations. I know I have often floundered when trying to write about even some very everyday happenings without having quite the right idiom.

Monday Muse

Chris Nedahl challenges us to write about Mothering Sunday or International Women’s Day and then dares us to write a spy story. She rounds out her prompt with three photos to light up our imagination.

March Challenges brought forward from Jo and Nigel:

Horror Flash Fiction THEME: Horror story of a lone survivor on a deserted island. Deadline 31st March

National Flash Fiction Day: Deadline 17 March


Stories of the Nature of Cities Urban Flash Fiction. Deadline 15 April

The Molotov Cocktail - Killer Flash. Deadline 20th April,970



And adding: themed call is BLACK. Closing date is 30.04.2018

Bragging Stool

Once again, the Adhoccers, Sue, Chris, Laura, Angela, and Crilly await your votes.


Vanessa is reissuing her novel The House of Zaronza in April with a brilliant new cover and some editorial changes inside. Wishing her good luck with its revival.

Also mentioned here was a slight mix-up on the planning front which has been sorted.

Jim is postponing his membership for a while for personal reasons.

Also, to be found here is the list of SECONDARY CONTACT DETAILS. Not everyone has posted yet. The link to the google doc will stay at the top of the Notice Board for easy access.









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The House at Zaronza
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Love is All You Need: Ten tales of love from The Sophie King Prize
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The Duke's Shadow
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Foreign & Far Away
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Break Out
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Big Book of New Short Horror
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