Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Emotobooks Revolution

I've been seeing mentions lately on Twitter about something called 'Emotobooks' and 'the Emotobooks revolution.' Sounded intriguing, so I thought I'd check it out.

Emotobooks are a product line of Grit City Publications, who have this to say about them:

The term Emotobook was conceived by GCP founder, Ron Gavalik, in 2011 to label our first exclusive tablet fiction medium, which heightens emotional awareness in stories. Emotobooks have a unique style and structure, unlike any other fiction. Abstract, emotionally provocative illustrations are tied into each story to depict what characters feel during moments of emotional consequence. These expressive elements provide a cerebral and visual stimulation, which enhances the impact of the experience. GCP illustrators and editors use ePublishing technology to inject visualized emotions inside Emotobooks to immerse the mind in each story.
Hmm, okay. Can I see an example?
From Swing Zone #3: There were bodies left in the soldiers' wake, littering the beach. Mia sucked in her breath and rushed to kneel in front of the television, replaying it in slow-mo as she put her hands to the glass, trying to see their faces. She bit her lip, feeling overwhelmed with apprehension. What if he was one of them? What if that's why he didn't show up? Tormented by that uncertainty, her brain flooded with turbulent emotions. As hard as she had fallen for him, it was more than just upsetting – it was terrifying. She took a few large gulps of air, forcing herself to breathe. Her hand clutched tightly over her heart, praying he wasn't part of it. Desperately, she ran her eyes over each and every body.
She could see some of their faces, but their features all seemed blurred. The rest of the rebels were shown in the distance, always completely obscured. Pulling up some of the older reports, she observed the same thing in all of them. Coltis said she couldn't believe everything that she was seeing, and now she had to wonder. She narrowed her eyes as they showed a close up of the Freedale soldiers, noting once again, it was her brother's division.
This sample doesn't make me want to read Swing Zone #3. "Her brain flooded with turbulent emotions. was more than just upsetting - it was terrifying." I can't help but wonder, if Emotobooks are so effective at communicating emotion, then why did I need to have the emotions introduced and named for me?

I looked up another emotion book I think I'd like much better: The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. Their plug:
One of the biggest problem areas for writers is conveying a character's emotions to the reader in a unique, compelling way. This book comes to the rescue by highlighting 75 emotions and listing the possible body language cues, thoughts, and visceral responses for each. Using its easy-to-navigate list format, readers can draw inspiration from character cues that range in intensity to match any emotional moment. The Emotion Thesaurus also tackles common emotion-related writing problems and provides methods to overcome them. This writing tool encourages writers to show, not tell emotion and is a creative brainstorming resource for any fiction project.
"Show, not tell," now I like that much better.


  1. Hi Mary,

    I have never heard of emotebooks, so I was happy to trip upon your tweet. This is an interesting idea to enhance fiction. I think I'd have to read a book to see whether it improves the reading experience for me or not.

    Thanks for the mention of The Emotion Thesaurus as well. Emotion is a difficult area for writers, both to understand how to show emotion and how to stay away from crutch gestures that we writers tend to overuse. Hopefully our lists help writers brainstorm ways to create emotional expressions unique to their character's personality. :)

    Happy writing and reading!


  2. Thanks for the great recommendation of the Emotion Thesaurus. I just picked up the ebook. I'm sure it will come in handy during rewrites.

  3. This was a really nice recommendation to wake up to this morning :). Thanks for sharing your thoughts on The Emotion Thesaurus, Mary.

  4. The Emotion Thesaurus has become indespensible to me! I leave it open on my desktop at all times now. It gives me that nudge I need when I get stuck on describing what my character is feeling. If you write, you need The Emotion Thesaurus.