Smorgasbord Autumn Reading – Emotional Beats by Nicholas Rossis

Smorgasbord Autumn Reading

A slight departure today from the usual format as I am going to share more of Nicholas Rossis’s book than usual.. This is an excerpt Nicholas’s post from last week introducing us to Emotional Beats, and the great news that he is going to be sharing the book on his blog week by week. Of course if you cannot wait… And I suggest many of you won’t want to you can buy the book right away.

51j4o-sz5l-_uy250_About the book.

In some ways, writing resembles painting. You, the artist, find the perfect subject and capture it on paper as best as you can. As with painting, this can be done in either broad brush strokes, or fine ones. The detail can be photographic or minimal. And the materials used can make all the difference between a masterpiece and a run-of-the-mill product.

To add emotion, painters use color. Some buy the best colors they can find on the market; others mix them themselves. Like descriptions in a book, paintings can be vibrant or subdued, depending on the emotion the artist wishes to convey.

To achieve the same effect, writers use colorful words. One of the best tools available to them is beats. Google defines beats as follows:

“Beats are descriptions of physical action—minor or major—that fall between lines of speech to punch up your dialogue. When a character raises an eyebrow or furrows his brow, this action, or beat, interrupts the dialogue and telegraphs a change in the character’s emotional state.”

Beats are especially useful in the context of the familiar “show, don’t tell” guideline. This collection of some of the best beats I’ve read and written can be your best friend when you struggle to think of a novel way to convey an emotion without naming it.

Name that emotion

“Show, don’t tell,” everyone says.


Because of the way our brains are wired. If you don’t name the emotion you are trying to describe, the emotional resonance is actually much stronger. As soon as you name an emotion, however, your readers slip into thinking mode. And when they think about an emotion, they distance themselves from the actual experience of feeling it.

So, the next question is, how? How can we show anger, fear, indifference, and the whole range of emotions that characterize the human experience?

Until a few years ago, the answer might have been simple: add an adverb. For example:

He fearfully stepped onto the ladder.

This is simple and unassuming. But, for today’s author, unacceptable. “Lazy writing,” your writing coach would say, suggesting instead that you use a beat. For example, you could describe your character’s actions along the lines of:

He placed one uncertain foot on the ladder and raised his body. Will it hold, he wondered. He closed his eyes for a second, expecting the worn step to give way. When it didn’t, he placed his second foot on the next step. His temples felt damp. He resisted the urge to wipe them, his fingers clutching instead the railing even harder. The ladder held. So far.

Much better, right? It is richer; immediate; deeper. It draws the reader in; makes them want to read more.

You can read the rest of Nicholas’s post here:

In this week’s post Nicholas shares ways to portray anger.... Let me count the ways!!!

Early reviews for Emotional Beats

Invaluable resource for authors. I write in “deep point of view”, and especially when it comes to feelings, I always show not tell. But there are so many times I’m allowed to have my character “narrow her eyes” or “widen her eyes”. This book gives me literally dozens of ways to express emotions, clearly categorized, using mainly body language beats.

Even if you don’t want to use what the author offers verbatim, there are so many combinations one can make from the suggestions, that you’ll never find yourself wondering how to express emotion in a fresh, unique way.

Truly useful.

Invaluable Resource! By Jan Sikes on September 24, 2016

This book is going to be an invaluable resource and reference for me as I write my own stories. It is easy to use, and the reference material is not boring like so many writing help books. Great book for anyone in the field of writing to own!

This book is an excellent guide to keep handy for reference for writers. Rossis offers a great breakdown of useful character emotions, dialogue tags and expressions to use to convey feelings of characters and pauses when writing. I highly recommend this little guide as a useful companion for every writer.

Buy the book:

A selection of other books by Nicholas Rossis


Buy all of Nicholas’s books.

About Nicholas Rossis


Nicholas Rossis lives to write and does so from his cottage on the edge of a magical forest in Athens, Greece. When not composing epic fantasies or short sci-fi stories, he chats with fans and colleagues, writes blog posts, walks his dog, and enjoys the antics of his baby daughter and two silly cats, all of whom claim his lap as home. His first children’s book, Runaway Smile, has won the Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Award, among other distinctions.

Many of his short stories have appeared in various collections and anthologies. He has published three collections: Honest Fibs, The Power of Six and Infinite Waters, which was voted as one of the best 50 Indie books of 2015.

He has also written the epic fantasy series, Pearseus. The final book in the series is currently penned.

What readers are saying about Nick’s fantasies:

“Most avid readers still have books from their childhood which they read over and over again. ‘Runaway Smile’ has joined the list.”

“From the very first sentence I realized I was not reading a book, I was going on an adventure.”

Connect to Nicholas on Social media

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Thank you for dropping in today and please help share the news of Nicholas’s new book and his other work.. thanks Sally


14 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Autumn Reading – Emotional Beats by Nicholas Rossis

  1. Pingback: Smorgasbord Autumn Reading – Emotional Beats by Nicholas Rossis | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  2. Pingback: Smorgasbord Round Up – Far East POWs – Recommended Reads – Health and food news | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

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