Q&A with Becca Puglisi, author of The Emotion Thesaurus

By   Hannah Bickerton 3 min read

Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of books for writers—including her latest publication: a second edition of The Emotion Thesaurus, an updated and expanded version of the original volume. Her books are available in multiple languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling.

Tell me a little bit about yourself and your Thesaurus book series.

My name is Becca Puglisi, and I’m a co-author of The Emotion Thesaurus (now in its second edition!) and its companions. Each of the books in this series addresses a problem area that’s common to writers – how to show emotion, creating realistic and memorable characters, using the setting to do more than simply set your stage, etc. Each time Angela and I start a new project, we look at our own writing processes to figure out where we struggle and where other authors might be having a hard time. This has worked pretty well for us, resulting in six books so far that cover different areas of difficulty for writers.

What do you want readers to take away from your books?

Mostly, we want authors to see that the power to write better stories is within their grasp. We all have weak areas; overcoming them is truly a matter of identifying those blind spots and becoming knowledgeable about them. Successful authors are going to be lifelong learners. Our goal is to provide the resources that can help shorten that learning curve.

What do you think is most essential to being successful as a writer?

Well, I’ve already mentioned being dedicated to learning. The other essential is putting in the hard work. Used to be, you could retire to your study and spend all day just writing the words. But no more. Now, you also have to promote yourself, develop and maintain an online presence, stay up to date on the industry and how it’s changing, know your publishing options, network with other authors, study the craft… Successful writers have to recognize that they will wear many hats, and some of them will be really uncomfortable. But that’s part of the deal. An author who dedicates themselves to digging in and doing all the necessary work is going to be much more successful.

What has been your experience writing about writing throughout this series?

When I first started, I knew I was woefully ignorant and had a lot to learn, but I assumed I would eventually get to the point of having ‘arrived’ as a writing coach. As I’ve progressed, though, I keep realising how much I don’t know. I definitely see that I’m still walking the path and won’t ever reach that long-desired destination of ‘knowing enough’. Luckily, the writing community is full of people who are strong in my areas of weakness, and, by and large, they’re wonderful, helpful, and supportive people. I don’t have to take this trip alone, and that has been incredibly encouraging.

What are your plans for the future? Will you add more books to the Thesaurus series?

We’re always adding. We’re getting ready to introduce a new online thesaurus at our blog and we’re in the process of figuring out what our next publication will be. We’ve even branched out beyond books, partnering with Lee Powell (creator of Scrivener for Windows) to produce an online product called One Stop for Writers, a series of resources designed to help writers elevate their storytelling. So as the world and the industry move forward, we’re exploring all the avenues we can use to help writers reach their goals. Because that’s really what we’re hoping to achieve.

Hannah Bickerton
Hannah Bickerton
Hannah has worked in marketing for nine years, specialising in strategy development for start-ups and EdTech companies. Having recently jumped across industries to join the Whitefox team, Hannah isn’t a complete stranger to the publishing world with previous employment at Macmillan and TES Global. She is now dedicated to ensuring that anyone who has something interesting to say knows all about whitefox.