How To Get Character Depth, or, The Best Freaking Writing Craft Book EVER! @angelaackerman

There’s nothing better than an epiphany. It’s all gooey and warm on the inside, and on the outside it smothers my brain in a glass clear sensation of clarity.  

What follows is usually a brief flappy hand dance, a wide stare into the distance as my brain discombobulates and then has an epiphany.

That’s what the Emotion Thesaurus did to me the first time I read it. If you’re a writer and you don’t own a copy, then shame on you… You bloody ought to. To my absolute delight, I was given a copy of the latest installment in the emotion thesaurus series to review: The Emotional Wound Thesaurus.

Once again, I had one of those delightfully sticky and positively crystal clear moments. Each time Ackerman and Puglisi release a new book, it’s like my writing jumps another notch on the development scale.

I own every single book they’ve written and used them all extensively, so I feel safe when I say that this book is so good, it might even rival their original Emotion Thesaurus. In fact, does anyone have a Nobel prize for teaching writing? They need it.

People are bloody hard to understand, that’s why writing good books is so hard. Writers have to be psychologists. But the latest wound book takes all the pain out of it for you. Which brings me onto the epiphany I had…

What part of the book gave me an epiphany this time? Well, one quote about character need and resulting behavior literally blew my mind!

“…unmet needs have the power to direct behavior above all else, meaning, if the urgency is strong enough, needs can push characters to act even if their deepest, most debilitating fears are telling them not to.” P.21 The Emotional Wound Thesaurus, Ackerman and Puglisi.

Wait, whaaaaaaaat?

Can you hear the tiny pieces of my brain fragmenting and splitting as their atoms implode?

Image from Amazon

That is a hard truth of humanity, a fundamental causation of our behavior and if we, as writers, can understand that, we can understand how to push our protagonists into action in the second half of our books.

That little nugget of psychology should be driving our protagonists into our book’s climax. Whatever your hero wants, it’s still an unmet need. It should be so fundamental to their being they have no choice but to overcome their *fear/barrier the villain put in their way/insert some other fictional obstacle* don’t you seeeeee??????

That right there is a firework of character depth you just threw into your novel and when it explodes, it’s going to smear its juicy depth all over your pages!

That is just one of the golden delights in their book.

This book, in particular, goes deeper than any of their others. With a significant focus on teaching and the psychology of characters, you can find in-depth content on:

  • Character Arcs
  • Lies characters believe and why
  • Needs
  • Psychology of villains
  • How a character redeems themselves
  • How to create a wound
  • How a character can redeem themselves
  • How to create a wound effectively (as well as a look at what that means for their past)
  • Factors that will affect a wound and what that will do to your character’s behavior.
  • Big reveals
  • Top tips on what classic mistakes to avoid
  • A bazillion different types of character wound – and in each one they provide: examples, needs that are compromised, what the characters might fear, possible responses and results, personality traits, triggers, and opportunities to overcome their wound.

So yeah. GO BUY THE DAMN BOOK or karma save your writing soul!




Image from Writers Helping Writers

My Review:

What sets this apart from other writing craft books is the way it gets to the core of humanity’s psychology. If you want to understand a character, like truly, deeply and fundamentally know what pushes your protagonists to save the world time and time again, this is the book for you. But the magic of it is that it won’t just teach you about characters, it will teach you about people too.

This book is so many things: writing mentor and tutor, an encyclopedia of human psychology, inspiration bucket, reference tool, character development guide and so much more.

It gave me a number of personal epiphanies. Every time I read one of the Ackerman-Puglisi thesauri my writing jumps up a hundred developmental notches.

These thesauri are writing craft cult classics, that’s a fact. It’s also a fact that their latest Wound Thesauri MUST be in every writer’s reference collection.

10 stars out of 5.


      1. I picked it up plus two others, Sacha. I was disappointed that they weren’t in print form. They’re the types of books I’d love to underline and highlight in. I’ll have to read with a notebook. 🙂

          1. haha! Well I am SUPER glad that gift certificate went to good use, and trust me, IT REALLY DID. Glad you got the paperbacks, I have to say, I buy them too, you should see the state of my Emotion Thesaurus – do you know the story of the velveteen rabbit? It’s ears get ‘loved’ off. That’s exactly what’s happened to my copy of their first book hahaha

  1. Oh my holy gosh, Sacha! What a freaking shout out here!

    I absolutely love that something here discombobulated you. LOL, Forget trigger warnings. Instead I should have a banner across the book that says “may lead to discombobulation.” And honestly we’re talking Angela’s #lifegoals here. 🙂

    In all seriousness, thank you so much. As you know, we were a bit worried about how this book would be taken, and so we really tried to do justice to what is a very dark (yet vital to storytelling!) topic. I am thrilled you’ll be helped by it. And triple Angela points for using the Velveteen rabbit reference in your comment above when talking about the Emotion Thesaurus. I love you so hard fro that! 😉

    1. haha, I try my best! You guys totally deserve it too. Lollllllll discombobulated is an awesome word and an even awesomer (that’s totally a word) feeling! Seriously – my emotion thesaurus got it’s ears loved off, and one day, when I finally get to meet you, it will be the most loved, word out and well-used copy of that book you ever sign!!

  2. Sacha, thanks so much for this. What an incredibly thoughtful review. On the rare occasion something I produce causes anything close to an epiphany for readers, I get all goose-bumpy. Angela and I had a few epiphanies of our own while writing it, but it’s something else when you’re able to share that with others. We’re so grateful to you for spreading the word. HUGS!

    1. Hey Becca, you’re so welcome 😀 well bring on the goosebumps because I had a hella epiphany – but then you’re books tend to have a habit of doing that to me! AWESOME webinar by the way 😀

      1. Lol! Well I know how much you loved the last one. I think this might actually help me with developing the relationship between Conor and Ruairi… when I get round to writing book 3! 😂

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