Friday, March 10, 2017

50 Physical Descriptions of Fear

I find it difficult sometimes to come up with the right word or phrase that I haven't already used repetitively through a manuscript. So, I keep a lot of word lists and descriptions around while I write. It keeps me from constantly stopping to dig through my thesaurus. Though I do that, too.
Anyway, since the theme this month is Fear, I thought I'd provide you with a list of 50 ways to describe a terrified character. Hopefully, you'll find it useful in the midst of scaring the bejesus out of your characters.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, and if it sparks other descriptions of fear, be sure to send them my way.

1.     Dart
2.     Shift
3.     Widen
4.     Pop
5.     Shut
6.       -Slam shut
7.       -Clench shut
8.       -Squeeze shut

Breathing and sounds - I cheated a bit here and slipped in some sounds.
9.     Mouth Gapes
10.  Gasp
11.  Hyperventilate
12.  Scream
13. Shriek
14.  Whimper
15.  Screech
16.  Lips twist
17.  Gulp

18.  Twitch
19.  Crawl
20.  Clammy
21.  Sweat
22.  Hair stands up
23.  Bristles
24.  Prickle
25.  Goosebumps
26.  Chills
27.  Placid
28.  Blanche

Body General
29.  Shrink away
30.  Crumple
31.  Dead run
32.  Race
33.  Flee
34.  Rock
35.  Sway
36.  Tiptoe
37.  Lock up
38.  Freeze
39.  Tense
40.  Back away
41.  Wring hands

Internal - Some of these could also be used to describe external features.
42.  clench
43.  knot
44.  contort
45.  quicken
46.  tremble
47.  quiver
48.  pound
49.  pulse
50.  stricken

There are so many great words to describe terror, you might see a more extensive list from me in the future. ;)

In the meantime, a great book to have for reference is The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman and Becci Puglisi.

And if you're in need of a phrase book, you might want to try the "Horror Writer's Phrase Book" by Jackson Dean Chase. Note: most of the phrases are of the slasher variety, but there are some that you might find helpful, especially listed under Part 2. Human Suffering, there is a section of phrases for Fear and Surprise.

Do you use a word or phrase lists when writing? Are there any list or description resources you recommend? I'd love to hear about them.

Writing Resource:  The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman and Becci Puglisi and Horror Writer's Phrase Book by Jackson Dean Chase

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