Writers' Phrasebook – did it help?

This post is in continuation of my mission to share whatever I learn as a fledgling writer.


As a writer, I feel the pressure of creating believable characters. I love to get to know characters in the books I read so I needed to make sure I deliver this in what I am writing. In the process of writing my book I feel that I struggle with making vivid characters. I am not the most observant of people in general and so I’ve never really paid attention to what people do, body language, what they look like etc. So I decided instead of using the thesaurus, I would see if there was anything out there that I could buy to refer to.



The first book that I bought, that came today in the post, was the Romance Writers’ Phrasebook. My book has got a romantic thread in it but it isn’t a romance novel entirely. So I wasn’t sure if it would help, but it had good reviews and it was the interaction of my main two characters that I felt was a bit flat. So I have been working from this book all day and I feel like it has transformed my characters. In my opinion I think it has made them so much better. It has split the useful phrases such as; ‘body’, ‘facial expressions’and much more. I will use this phrasebook as a prompt for becoming better at writing characters.


A brilliant example of how it has helped me is this:


This is what I had…


She assessed him as he walked towards her. He had slightly long blonde hair that curled naturally to just below his ears. He had an angular face with green eyes that stood out against his blonde hair. They were an unusual shade of green, slightly pale but no less captivating. He was wearing a simple black t-shirt with a fitted black leather jacket and blue jeans. Such a simple outfit, but she could see it all fitted his body perfectly. A body which also happened to be perfect. “Can I sit here?” he asked. His voiced sounded confident, like he had no expectations that she would consider saying no.


With the help of this book it became this instead:


For a minute, his black clad body stiffened as he realised his mistake. But then, instead of putting his head down and scurry away like she would have, his powerful and well-muscled body moved with easy grace over to her table. He looked down at her with warmth in his unusual pale green eyes, which were in perfect symmetry to his humourous, kindly mouth. His stance exuded a sense of restless energy. For the first time since she could remember she couldn’t look away. He stood there, devilishly handsome and she was captivated. A lock of his wavy blond hair fell casually on his forehead as he asked her if he could sit down.


I think that this sounds much better, but I would love the advice of my fellow writers! Please comment below and tell me in the nicest possible way if you don’t agree!


The Introduction in this book is really interesting and has lots of advice about the writing process and things that could be missing from your work. It isn’t that expensive so if like me you need something to help you with show don’t tell then this is a great book. The link to buy is here if anyone is interested: The Romance Writers’ Phrase Book (Perigee Book), USA Copy.

1 Comment on “Writers' Phrasebook – did it help?

  1. Hi, wow what a difference! I much preferred the second version, it shows more of him than the first version. The descriptive words are much better and paint a picture. I struggle for the same reasons I might invest in this book myself.

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