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?

The Emotion Thesaurus (Second Edition) book launch

As writers, we all have our favorite writing methods.  For instance, some swear by Scrivener, while others write in Word or Google docs. Some prefer to draft longhand, using colorful gel pens and notebooks.

Most of us have a favorite writing book (or ten), too. These books have helped us understand storytelling better, demystifying certain aspects of writing. Well, today I’m taking part in welcoming a new writing guide into the world: The Emotion Thesaurus (Second Edition).

You may have heard of The Emotion Thesaurus before, or even have a copy as I do – a well thumbed copy. The original’s lists of body language, thoughts, and visceral sensations for 75 unique emotions made brainstorming character expressions and reactions so much easier. It quickly became a bestseller.

Now, there’s a bigger, better second edition. Angela and Becca have added 55 NEW emotions such as Euphoria, Vindicated, and Schadenfreude. (And that’s not all that’s new, either…the book is almost twice the size as the original.)

Anyway, if you’re interested in checking it out, you can read some of the reviews on Goodreads or find information here.

One more thing to tell you about…are you ready for this? 

GIVEAWAY ALERT!

Wish you could attend a free writing retreat, go to a conference, snag a seat at a workshop, or have your professional membership to a writing organization paid for? Of course you do! 

Well, at Writers Helping Writers, one lucky winner will get one of the above, up to a $500 US value.

This is the giveaway of a lifetime, so hurry over to enter!

The Must-Have Thesaurus

Hi everyone! Today’s an exciting day because I’ve been helping Angela and Becca at Writers Helping Writers keep a BIG secret: what the next book in their thesaurus series will be.

It might seem strange for an author to not tell their readers about the book they plan to release…unless your names are Becca and Angela. They are known for writing books on showing, not telling, and couldn’t pass up a chance to do just that by waiting for the cover reveal, which is today!

So, without further ado, I give you…

emotion-thesaurus-2nd-edition-400

The Emotion Thesaurus Second Edition!

You might have heard of The Emotion Thesaurus before, or even have a copy. The original released in 2012 and quickly became the go-to guide on expressing character emotion. The book’s lists of body language, thoughts, and visceral sensations for 75 unique emotions made brainstorming character expressions and reactions so much easier.

The Emotion Thesaurus is one of my primary writing resources – well-thumbed in my quest to improve my characters’s emotional behaviour.

In this second edition, the authors have added 55 entries, bringing the total to 130 emotions.

That’s not all, either. This book is almost double in size with lots of new content. You can find a full write up for it HERE and a list of all the entries (plus some samples!) HERE.

Plus, this book is available for pre-order! You can find it on AmazonKoboApple Books (iTunes), and Indiebound.

One last thing I wanted to mention…

Angela & Becca are giving away a free webinar recording of one of their popular workshops on Emotion, so head over if this is an area of struggle for you. It might really help!

I’m off to pre-order my copy of The Emotion Thesaurus Second Edition now before I tackle another scene.