Plutchik’s Color Wheel Of Emotion

What emotions are your characters feeling today?

Basic emotion Basic opposite
Joy Sadness
Trust Disgust
Fear Anger
Surprise Anticipation
Sadness Joy
Disgust Trust
Anger Fear
Anticipation Surprise


Human Feelings (The results of Emotions.) Feelings Opposite
Optimism Anticipation + Joy Disappointment
Love Joy + Trust Remorse
Submission Trust + Fear Contempt
Awe Fear + Surprise Aggressiveness
Disappointment Surprise + Sadness Optimism
Remorse Sadness + Disgust Love
Contempt Disgust + Anger Submission
Aggressiveness Anger + Anticipation Awe


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4 Responses to Plutchik’s Color Wheel Of Emotion

  1. Jim Thayer says:

    This color wheel of emotion is a terrific tool. Here’s something to think about regarding emotions in fiction. An old saying: if the writer gives a character a reason to weep, and she weeps, the reader won’t have to. But if the writer gives a character a reason to weep, and she holds it in, the reader will weep.
    A character’s tears let emotion escape the page, when the writer’s aim is to keep the emotion bottled up, right in front of the reader, so the reader will be affected by it. New writers love tears. Most of the time they are a mistake.
    The technique is to how the action, and not so much the reaction. This is true not just for sadness, but for all emotions in fiction. The writer should set out in detail the reason the character deserves to be emotional, but not too much detail about the emotion itself. Show why the character should be revolted, but not too much of the character being revolted. Show the reasons for the joy, but go light on the fist pumping and victorious cackling. Show the facts that lead to the character’s wonder, but avoid the dazed and slack-jawed “Golleee” from the character.
    Build the case for the emotion. Set out why the character should feel sadness, joy, revulsion, wonder, relief, gratitude, or shame. Give the facts. But then don’t go on at length regarding the character’s emotional reaction. If the character whoops with joy, the reader won’t have to. If the character rages on and on about his circumstance, the reader will be less inclined to. This is a powerful technique that works almost all the time.

    • Incredible advice, Jim. Thank you for sharing with us. I agree that the best thing you can do as a writer with regard to inspiring emotion is to set things up and give the reader the freedom to feel for him or herself…

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