The Occupation Thesaurus – a review

I was privileged and excited to read an ARC of The Occupation Thesaurus. This is my rambling review and I’ll start with the crucial and deserved rating:

5 stars *****

The core of this non-fiction reference book is – as the title suggests – an extensive selection of Occupations with details on them all. I should mention the US emphasis, although the authors clearly state aspects like training/requirements for a job might vary between states and countries. As an ex-pat Brit, I was aware of this but never felt that aspect distracted from the immense value of the information.

The excellent opening sections on numerous aspects of job selection, motivation, and their value to writers, are essential reading. They are jammed full of ideas, observations, and suggestions on how to apply Occupations in your writing.

They triggered some interesting thoughts for me. Topics covered are: It’s All in the Details; The Motivations behind Career Choice; Careers that Characterize; Jobs as Sources of Tension and Conflict; Jobs Can Support Story Structure and Character Arc; Vocations as Thematic Devices; Choosing a Career for Your Character; Additional Tips for Writing about Occupations.

These sections alone make this book invaluable. Many of the comments felt topical in the light of the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy, society, and job issues. The authors reference how the trickle-down effect from such a crisis causes a wider economic crisis across multiple industries.

From the opening sections onwards, it’s “a matter of figuring out which ones [Occupations] will work for your characters…” Over 125 jobs are covered from Actor to Yoga Instructor with sections for each job on: Overview; Necessary Training; Useful skills, talents, and abilities; Helpful character traits; Sources of Friction; People they might interact with; How this occupation might impact the character’s needs; Twisting the fictional stereotype; Characters might choose this profession because they…

Plenty to set the grey cells sparking.

I could relate to so much in the light of my own characters’ occupations and my own diverse careers. Some occupations seemed absent at first – until I applied some lateral thinking. For instance, the female protagonist of my debut novel was a horse rider – not included. But as a Professional Athlete her traits were represented. There is enough variety in the detailed Occupations in other related fields presented. Plus, the Animal Trainer applies to horses – and other creatures including marine.

Just think sideways. I have a secondary character who is the PA to a Fashion Designer. No PA, but the Personal Assistant to a Celebrity has relevant elements.

Or to quote the authors, “explore ones with similar responsibilities, risk, or theme to get you started,” using the appendices especially.

Warning – with a wink – rabbit-holes galore abound here. Or triggers for lateral plotting.

For instance, “…even an innocent nosebleed that turns the entryway into a murder scene can create imaginative and embarrassing complications…” That snippet is now my favourite image – and idea rabbit-hole. Don’t ask what Occupation that came from. Real Estate Agent?

Anyway, I didn’t read every Occupation entry in detail, but I ensured I read ones familiar to me – e.g. Actor, Farmer, Police Officer, Reporter – my own profession – and Talent Agent. These all were accurate with aspects I would have forgotten but agree with.

Plus, I read ones I was intrigued by – e.g. Astronaut, Funeral director, Palaeontologist, Robotics Engineer, and Treasure Hunter.

I was tempted to read every entry. My secondary characters have jobs and so should yours. This book will always prove useful – and I’ve found more material for ongoing characters – like that Fashion Designer. And there are enough unusual professions like Dream Interpreter, Glassblower, Podcaster, Reiki Master, and Tattoo Artists, to set your ideas flowing.   

Even the familiar – or not – Novelists, ??!!***

My approach might skim the surface, but this is the way most will use this invaluable resource. Dipping in-&-out, researching for specific Occupations, marker on that key profession, these are some of the ways I use the other thesauri in the indispensable series.

There are also inspirational appendices to spark more thoughts and plotlines.

Appendix A: Occupation Speed Dating: Where you start by identifying a standout trait for your character, then using some graphics find an occupation match.

And Appendix B contains a Career Assessment that can help you put all the pieces together.

In addition, this is not a static reference tool. The list will be updated since “the Occupation Thesaurus at One Stop for Writers isn’t limited by page count, so you will find more of our entries there…”

Navigation in this thesaurus and others in the series is simple, with a clear table of contents including links to external resources. To quote a recent reply I made about the authors’ Emotion Thesaurus, “…I have a Kindle for PC version of ET, The Rural Setting T., and The Urban Setting T., as well – and all three are easy to use. In fact, the Kindle Index facility helps. I’m reading an ARC of the new Occupation Thesaurus as a PDF – also extremely useable.”

This addition to the stable is already proving another winner and an essential in this writer’s library. And as one friend suggested, it could help anyone struggling to figure out what kind of job they want in real life.

Or as another writer friend wrote, “What a totally brilliant idea and resource.”

What better why to improve existing characters or even spark story ideas.

Now to weave in “a part-time pastor or priest doing ethical hacking as a way to supplement his income” as Angela and Becca suggested. Or was it a Ghost doing my writing?

Writers, Have You Heard About The Occupation Thesaurus?

Hi everyone! As promised, today I have something fun to share…a special chance to win some help with your writing bills. Awesome, right?

Some of you may know Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi of Writers Helping Writers. Well, today they are releasing a new book, and I’m part of their street team. I’m handing the blog over to them so they can tell you about their Writer’s Showcase event, new book, and a great freebie to check out. Read on!


Certain details can reveal a lot about a character, such as their goals, desires, and backstory wounds. But did you know there’s another detail that can tie your character’s arc to the plot, provide intense, multi-layered conflict, AND shorten the “get to know the character” curve for readers?

It’s true. Your character’s occupation is a GOLD MINE of storytelling potential.

Think about it: how much time do you spend on the job? Does it fulfill you or frustrate you? Can you separate work from home? Is it causing you challenges, creating obstacles…or bringing you joy and helping you live your truth?

Just like us, most characters will have a job, and the work they do will impact their life. The ups and downs can serve us well in the story.

Maybe you haven’t thought much about jobs in the past and how they act as a window into your character’s personality, interests, and skills. It’s okay, you aren’t alone. The good news is that The Occupation Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Jobs, Vocations, and Careers is going to do all the heavy lifting for you. (Here’s one of the job profiles we cover in this book: FIREFIGHTER.)

GIVEAWAY ALERT: THE WRITER’S SHOWCASE

To celebrate the release of a new book, Writers Helping Writers has a giveaway happening July 20th & July 23rd. You can win some great prizes, including gift certificates that can be spent on writing services within our Writer’s Showcase. Stop by to enter!

Resource Alert: A List of Additional Jobs Profiles for Your Characters

Some of the amazing writers in our community have put together additional career profiles for you, based on jobs they have done in the past. What a great way to get accurate information so you can better describe the roles and responsibilities that go with a specific job, right? To access this list, GO HERE.

Happy writing to all!

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My review is imminent, although I’m still researching for the right job for a secondary character. Maybe a Ghost who’s a Writer or a Priest who moonlights as a hacker.

Anyway, tomorrow I’ll attempt posting my thoughts on what is already a five star essential in this writer’s reference library.

Stay tuned – as well as safe, secure, and inspired.

A New Library In Town: One Stop For Writers

If there’s one thing all writers agree on, it’s that writing is TOUGH. The road to publication twists and dips as we learn the craft, hone our abilities, create stories we’re passionate about, fight discouragement, educate ourselves about the industry…and then start the process all over again as we realize there’s room to improve. But you know what? If you are like me, you wouldn’t have it any other way.

Yet, sometimes it’s nice to get a helping hand.

Finding a good writing book, a helpful blog, a mentor or critique partner to share the journey with…these things are gems along the writing path.

And guess what? Maybe there’s another resource waiting just up the road called One Stop For Writers.

One Stop For Writers is not writing software, but rather a powerful online library that contains tools, unique description collections, helpful tutorials and much more, brought to you by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi, the authors of The Emotion Thesaurus and Lee Powell, the creator of Scrivener for Windows.

Could One Stop For Writers be the writing partner you’ve been searching for? Visit Writers Helping Writers this week (October 7th-14th) and see, where Angela, Lee and Becca are celebrating their venture with prizes and some pay-it-forward fun.