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Writers Helping Writers #7

The Occupation Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Jobs, Vocations, and Careers

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What if there was a shortcut for helping readers get to know your characters? Would you take it?

Characters are as complex as people and revealing their inner layers without chunky blocks of pace-stopping description is a challenge. The Occupation Thesaurus can help you unlock one of the best tools in your show-don’t-tell writing kit: a character’s job.

Occupations are part of our everyday world, meaning they can be used to encourage readers to make associations between a type of work and the person doing it, shortening the “get to know the character” curve. Whether a person loves or hates what they do, a job can reveal many things, including their priorities, beliefs, desires, and needs. The Occupation Thesaurus will show you how a career choice can characterize, drive the plot, infuse scenes with conflict, and get readers on the character’s side through the relatable pressures, responsibilities, and stakes inherent with work.


Select a job that packs a powerful punch. Inside The Occupation Thesaurus, you’ll find:

• Informative profiles on popular and unusual jobs to help you write them with authority
• Believable conflict scenarios for each occupation, giving you unlimited possibilities for adding tension at the story and scene level
• Advice for twisting the stereotypes often associated with these professions
• Instruction on how to use jobs to characterize, support story structure, reinforce theme, and more
• An in-depth study on how emotional wounds and basic human needs may influence a character’s choice of occupation
• A brainstorming tool to organize the various aspects of your character’s personality so you can come up with the best careers for them

Do more with your description and choose a profession for your character that showcases who they are, what they want, and what they believe in. With over 120 entries in a user-friendly format, The Occupation Thesaurus is an entire job fair for writers.

318 pages, Paperback

Published July 20, 2020

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About the author

Angela Ackerman

17 books973 followers
ANGELA ACKERMAN is a writing coach, international speaker, and co-author of 11 bestselling books for writers, including The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression. Her books are available in 10 languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. Her home country is Canada.

Angela is also the co-founder of the popular site Writers Helping Writers®, as well as One Stop for Writers®, a portal to powerful tools and resources that help you think like a writing expert so you become a stronger storyteller. A strong believer in writers helping and supporting other writers, she tries to pay-it-forward however she is able to.


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Displaying 1 - 30 of 45 reviews
November 21, 2020
Q: ... the possibilities are endless for delicious conflict. (c)

Another great volume aimed at giving the aspiring (and not-so-aspiring) the tools (or even a shedful of those!) to showing our characters working, choosing chareers, moving forward (or in plenty other directions) with their aspirations.
Love how it's recommended to tie the occupation in with the human needs (from the most basic ones such as survival to the more advanced like fulfillment). What makes human pursue particular jobs, what makes them good (or horrible) at them - all of these are transferable between the RL psychology and lit. The writer shouldn't forget that even when trying to write the most one-off MC ever.
A whole plethora of fun setups investigated in-depth.

Work and relationships - another venue to set up conflict and character dev and generally lots of fun and mayhem:
At work, people have differing viewpoints, opinions, manners, and personalities that are not always compatible. And, in most occupations, everyone is expected to put differences aside and work as a team. Only … is that what happens, especially these days? You don’t need a physical watercooler to spread gossip when everyone in the office has text-messaging. And why risk being overheard bad-mouthing a co-worker when you could use IMs and memes instead? Face it, around the office, smiles can hide knives.
Here are some of the ways work and relationships often make bad dance partners. (c)
A character from a tight-knit family may accept a position that’s closer to home, even if it’s less desirable than other offers. Someone else might pursue a career because she comes from a family of first responders or nurses or teachers, and following in her loved ones’ footsteps provides a sense of belonging. In another scenario, a character who loses her father to cancer may take over his real estate practice as a way to honor him and keep his legacy alive. In situations like these, the character’s need for love or belonging drives her decision-making. (c)
Granted, not every stereotype is accurate, and we obviously want to avoid clichéd characters; individualization is an important part of the character-building process, so we’ll discuss this in-depth in just a bit. But, at first blush, a character’s job can provide a baseline for readers about things that are probably true, shortening the learning curve in the getting-to-know-you process. (c)
As technology streamlines processes and robots replace heartbeats, becoming obsolete is a worry for many. (c)
Profile Image for Sacha Black.
Author 18 books251 followers
July 19, 2020
As far as I'm concerned, Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi have immortalized themselves as automatic buys for the rest of eternity. If you're a writer, do yourself a favor and make sure you add this book to your craft shelf. The Occupation Thesaurus is, without doubt, another home run. Ackerman and Puglisi take character occupations to the next level by showing you how to:

Connect occupation to your book's theme
Create conflict with an occupation
Link occupations to your character's emotional wounds and flaws
Draw spectacular details out from your characters occupations to hook readers and make your story sparkle

And that's before you get to the meat of the book.

Each occupation is rammed full of details like the training each job requires, helpful character traits for the role, skills and abilities you'd need to perform it, how to avoid stereotypes, ideas and motivations for choosing the perfect occupation as well as plenty of ideas for how to create friction and conflict.

Each and every thesaurus Ackerman and Puglisi produce is spectacular. The Occupation Thesaurus is no different. Full of inspiration, teachings and knowledge that's guaranteed to take your writing to the next level. It's a must, you need this book on your craft shelf.
Profile Image for Marina Costa.
Author 17 books76 followers
July 13, 2020
This Occupational Thesaurus is a very good resource for any writer. Plenty 0f jobs listed, as well as their importance in character development under various angles - plot-related, personality-related, theme-related and more. Also, there are several useful writing tips in each of the job descriptions, making it easy for a shy, introvert, little town writer to write characters who have exciting jobs of national importance, with believable details. It is definitely time to make the characters' jobs count, which doesn't happen in certain books, where the job is just vaguely mentioned...

In other words, I recommend it wholeheartedly - equally as the other thesauruses wrote by Becca and Angela!
Profile Image for Brandi MacCurdy.
Author 8 books2 followers
June 15, 2020
The Occupation Thesaurus is yet another priceless author resource released in this series. As with the prior Thesauruses in this collection, The Occupation version is chalked full of insights and information that many writers may not have realized they needed.
My Women’s Fiction stories tend to involve quite a few details about the characters professions. Going through the Table of Contents, I was excited to see the wide variety of careers covered in this book. It would be impossible to contain every occupation out there, so several “popular” occupations I was looking for were not included. However, the list does include careers you may have never considered for your characters, maybe Dream Interpreter or Human Test Subject. I knew the second I saw Social Media Manager on the list – a career my WIP main character has – this would be a great addition to my collection.
Do not skip the informational chapters before you get to the meat of the book! It is hard not to jump right to the page you may be interested in (see me immediately flipping to Social Media Manager) but it is worth the complete read. When developing our stories and our characters, we may not take time to put much effort into the characters career or current job situation. It may seem like a small detail, but as outlined in these beginning chapters, it is quite important to know what your character does for a living and why.
Angela and Becca do another amazing job outlining that why so we as authors have a better understanding of how to create a complete world for our characters. In reading these pages you may be surprised as to how much a specific career or job will impress upon your character. We may not realize, as in our real lives, our careers are a major part of many life decisions.
The beginning of the book touches on the basic need’s humans have and how these factors into choosing an occupation. Also discussed are how emotional wounds, personality traits, skills and beliefs come into play when we chose our occupation, whether we realize it or not. The same is said for characters that we create.
The authors also cover how one’s occupation can be a catalyst for propelling the story forward, creating and maintaining tension within the plot and invoke insights into the character and their life.
The details given to each individual occupation is what you would expect from the authors and like the other Thesaurus volumes. I love how each occupation covers information about that career, how to get there and the traits someone in that field may possess. This is helpful in any aspect of character development. Whether your character is formed and needs a job, or you have a job idea and need a body to fill it, the information here will help any author fill in the blanks.
Occupations I have given my characters: Editor, Librarian, Account Manager, Veterinarian Technician, ER Nurse, Teacher (several teachers), School Psychologist, Travel Photographer, Management Consultant, and my latest, Social Media Manager. I did skip right to this page. I have used the other Thesaurus volumes in this series to help mold this character and I chose Social Media Manager because I needed her to work from home. I loved seeing how spot on the information was for her and the fact that she is a thirty-something doing this job, not a fresh face out of school.
As with the other books in this series, the back of The Occupational Thesaurus contains various appendixes you can use as outlines, helpful tools, and online pintables.
This book releases July 20, 2020 and will make a great addition to your writers’ toolbox. You will love this resource as much as the other Thesauruses written by these authors. I received an ARC of The Occupational Thesaurus and cannot wait to get my hands on a physical copy to highlight and make notes in!
Profile Image for G.L. Tomas.
Author 44 books524 followers
June 14, 2020
This is a good guide. I've loved their past guides but I've always secretly hoped they'd release something that focused on professions. It doesn't have as many common occupations as I would have liked(doctors, singers, things I was hoping would be there). But it does give a lot of incite for the careers it focuses on. There are some quirky career choices(like a food stylist) that make me want to consider diverse career choices for characters in the future. I will be purchasing the physical copy when it releases in July. I received an ARC of this thesaurus and for writers and authors, much like all their books are worth the investment.
Profile Image for Rebecca Allen.
Author 7 books8 followers
June 22, 2020
As a writer of books for kids and teens, most of my characters don’t have careers. But I’ve found other thesauruses in Angela and Becca’s collection helpful, so I wanted to check out this new one. Their thesauruses includes The Emotion Thesaurus, The Positive Trait Thesaurus, The Negative Trait Thesaurus, and The Urban Setting Thesaurus, and more.

The Occupation Thesaurus is very user-friendly. It starts with a discussion of how a character’s occupation can help to characterize who they are, give them certain skills and/or values, and relate to their needs and goals.

Think about one of the first questions you’re asked by someone you meet at a cocktail party: “What do you do?”

What would be your first impression be of someone who said they were a kindergarten teacher? An emergency room nurse?

Even someone who tries not to stereotype people will get the impression that the kindergarten teacher enjoys spending time with kids and values education. The ER nurse probably has a deep knowledge of human physiology and first aid and is able to maintain control in stressful situations.

After a detailed discussion of how occupation can affect a character and their story, the thesaurus dives into a list of 124 occupations. For each, it lays out a description of the job as well as the training and skills that job implies. It then goes on to discuss traits a character with this job is likely to possess, sources of friction that come up in this occupation that might impact the character and their story, and the emotional needs a character in this occupation may have.

For instance, in the entry for Actor, useful skills, talents, or abilities include:

-- Charm, creativity, good listening skills, the ability to make people laugh, the ability to multitask, photographic memory, promotional skills, public speaking skills, and wit.

Character traits for actors include being:

-- Adaptable, adventurous, ambitious, bold, charming, confident, cooperative, creative, curious, enthusiastic, extroverted, flamboyant, and more.

Sources of friction for actors include:

-- Working with pretentious or self-involved co-workers, too many actors competing for few roles or losing to a rival, blowing an important casting call, creative differences among co-workers, being typecast, and more.

This thesaurus will be more helpful for writers of adult books than kidlit authors. Still, the adults in kids and teens’ lives need occupations and teens have part-time jobs.

Teens also have job aspirations. What assumptions might readers make about a 17-year-old protagonist who wants to work for NASA? How can you, as the author writing that character, use or subvert these expectations to advance your story?

Reading The Occupational Thesaurus also made me think about how the teams, clubs, and hobbies of middle-grade characters fill a similar role to the occupations of older characters. They show their interests, allow them to develop certain skills, and say something about their personality and maybe their needs.

I’d recommend The Occupation Thesaurus for writers who want to dive deeper into characterization in their stories by choosing professions that highlight important aspects of their characters and make them three-dimensional. Also for using the characters’ occupations to create conflict or heighten tension in a story.

I received an advanced reader copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

At TheWingedPen.com we have dozens of reviews of middle-grade, young-adult, #ownvoice, and writing craft books. Check out our reviews at:
or just click on Book Recommendations on our home page where you can search by category!
Profile Image for Allison Collins.
Author 6 books49 followers
June 23, 2020
Authors are constantly on the lookout for tools to add to their writerly toolboxes—resources to use to expand their writing, plotting, characterizations. In my opinion, the Thesaurus series from Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi is the best of the best. Each book in the series is well-thought out, easy to read and understand, and extremely valuable as a resource. These books take brainstorming, plotting, and understanding characters to a new level.

Therefore, I was thrilled to learn a new book, the Occupation Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Jobs, Vocations, and Careers, is the new addition to the library of resources. As an author, I agonize over each character’s personality, characteristics, goals, motivations, conflict – basically, what makes them who they are. So of course, occupation is one of the most important decisions to make regarding characters. Occupation can define your character, let the reader delve into how and why they chose a certain job or profession, give readers more insight into how the characters tick.

One of the best parts about the Thesaurus series is that the authors don’t just list, for example, occupations—there is so much valuable information about building characters, areas to consider that broaden a writer’s scope of characterization. The Occupation Thesaurus chapters include: 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, and Additional Tips for Writing about Occupations. Now what author wouldn’t find each of those chapters invaluable? It can give us things to think about that we may not have thought of before. This helps to enrich characters and make the story even better.

All of that valuable information is even BEFORE the occupations are listed. Each occupation includes the following: Overview, Necessary Training, Useful Skills/Talents/or 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, and Characters Might Choose This Occupation Because They…

Also included at the end of the book are incredibly valuable resources and worksheets authors can use when plotting their characters’ occupations.

The authors have spent a great deal of time researching all of the occupations they have included in The Occupation Thesaurus. No stone is left unturned when it comes to providing information for authors everywhere.

This newest addition to the Thesaurus collection is definitely going on my resources bookshelf. All of the books in the series are very well-used. I never sit down to write without using at least one of them!
Profile Image for Ritu Bhathal.
Author 4 books118 followers
July 2, 2020
Having purchased all the other Thesaurus books in this fantastic set of resources, I jumped at the chance to be able to read an ARC of the Occupation Thesaurus.
If all we wrote about, was what we know, then our characters would be a bunch of people with not very diverse backgrounds and jobs, but lo and behold, we now have a resource that will help us to find the perfect job for our characters, and a list of responsibilities, situations, characteristics required, personality traits, etc. to help us delve into a career we may have no previous knowledge of.
Knowing an occupation, in detail, can really enhance your character, within a story. The place they work, and the job they do can affect them emotionally, and mentally, so having this new thesaurus to help piece together information to flesh out your character's background is priceless, and can even give you catalysts for behaviours and incidents in your story.
I can't wait for the hard copy to be available to order, because I'll be putting my order in straight away on the 20th July!
Profile Image for Karla.
5 reviews
June 22, 2020
What to do when your protagonist is a skydiver, and you've never tried the sport or ever will? You go to the Occupation Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Jobs, Vocations, and Careers by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. When I received an arc of the book, I was thrilled to find my main character's career among the extensive list of jobs the authors have included in this well thought out guide. As I read through the entry, Angela and Becca gave me an overview of what a skydiving instructor does, what necessary training this person has to go through, what useful skills, talents, or abilities are needed, such as charm, gaining the trust of others. One I never thought of but makes so much sense: lip-reading. They gave me helpful character traits so my character could have depth. A skydiving instructor is adaptable, courageous, friendly, and protective, among other things. The authors offered an interesting list of sources of friction for my character, including a client who changes their mind mid-flight or a jumper blacking out mid-freefall. The Occupation Thesaurus gave me suggestions on the people my character might interact with, how this occupation might impact my character's needs based on Maslow's pyramid of needs, reasons why characters might choose this profession, and an interesting section on how to twist the fictional stereotype. This book is chock-full of interesting information that will enhance your characters and fast-track your reader's understanding of them without long paragraphs of description that only kills your story's pace.
Profile Image for Cindy Huff.
Author 7 books45 followers
June 24, 2020
Oh my, I love this resource. Unlike a word thesaurus that reads like a dictionary and contains a list of synonyms and antonyms this is a far superior tool. As with the other thesauruses by these authors, it too explains in detail tips to improve writing craft. The introduction explains how important the job of your character is to the plot and the characters' personalities. A far deeper look then I’d ever imagined. Each job listing follows the Maslow Pyramid of Needs. I can see how many more layers can be added to my characters using the insights given for various jobs. Exploring my characters through their occupation makes so much sense. A police officer world view would differ from a receptionist. The illustrations mirror real life and can help authors to create believable characters.
There are 124 job descriptions. But if you had 125th not list here, following the book’s pattern could help craft a deep believable character. This is a must-have book to add to your novel plotting toolbox.
Profile Image for Julie Brown.
Author 7 books46 followers
June 20, 2020
This will be a permanent "currently-reading" book. I'll be referring to it forever. Needless to say, I was thrilled to find SOMMELIER in the TOC, because my current protagonist is an overworked, stressed out sommelier!
With over a hundred occupations listed, writers are bound to find the ones they want to reference. Even if you don't find the exact job you've assigned your character, there are options similar enough to help flush out that character's work environment, skills, training, etc.
Another useful way to use this book is in reverse... you may have a character with a particular personality but don't know what kind of job to give them. By researching traits and circumstances and "why someone might choose this profession," you'll find an occupation that fits.
Finally, this book will jumpstart your imagination and give you great ideas for creating tension and putting your characters into serious, or hilarious, predicaments!

Profile Image for Rebecca Amiss.
Author 5 books23 followers
June 20, 2020
I received an ARC copy to review.
Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi does it again! I am in love with the rest of the Thesaurus series, and I knew this one would be great as well. Angela and Becca go into great detail on the many, many professions presented in this book. Each entry is incredibly well thought out and well researched. This, like the rest of the Thesaurus series, is a must have for any writer. It is a great guide and tool to have when writing a character's profession and interests. It is very fun and interesting to go through all the different jobs and learn about what goes into each profession. I highly recommend this book!
6 reviews1 follower
June 15, 2020
I love all of Angela's books; they've made my research, writing, and revising much easier. I refer to them almost every time I write--especially when I'm stuck. I have been looking forward to reading The Occupation Thesaurus and it was well worth the wait. The book more than lived up to my expectations.
I'm a retired therapist and I've never realized until I read this book that a person's job, even an insignificant one, carried so much weight in a story and that readers subliminally pick up on it. Angela uses Maslow's hierarchy of needs to show why a person is drawn to a certain profession. It's a very interesting theory and it makes perfect sense.
My own novel, STILLWATER, just came out and I went through some of my characters' career descriptions--teacher, fireman, janitor--line by line with The Occupation Thesaurus. I would have added more depth to their stories had I read The Occupation Thesaurus before I wrote the book.

Profile Image for Danielle Norman.
Author 49 books2,215 followers
June 16, 2020
I purchase Becca and Angela's first Emotion Thesaurus when they were signing at an SCBWI Florida conference years ago, I've been buying ever since. They have helped me throughout my successful children's writing career and when I made the jump to Indie and Romance. This one, the Occupation Thesaurus has to be one of my faves. I was writing about a fireman at the moment I received the book and instantly it became worth every penny. Being a former Veterinarian, I checked that section for facts and found them spot on. My list of author must-haves isn't long but the thesauruses by Becca and Angela are necessities. I can't write a novel or plot without them.
Profile Image for Jackie Layton.
Author 12 books227 followers
June 18, 2020
This is a mush-have book for fiction writers. Once again Angela and Becca have created an amazing resource for writers.

I received an ARC copy to review, but I would've bought it anyway. I've bought all of the Thesaurus guides by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi, and if I ever lose one, I'll buy it again.

Thanks Angela and Becca!
Profile Image for Debra.
Author 12 books110 followers
November 20, 2020
The many occupations in the world are impossible to list in just one book. So I wasn’t surprised, just disappointed, to find that the two professions I hoped would be included weren’t there. Nor were they available on the additional links provided.

There were a couple of occupations, such as novelist and server, that didn’t really need to be listed. Most of the writers who’ve purchased this book are likely familiar with the job, and most people have a pretty good idea of what a server’s job entails, or can talk to servers at local restaurants. It’s also curious how many times the word clairvoyance was listed under the category of the ‘Useful Skills, Talents or Abilities’ under each occupation.

After reading the book from cover to cover, I did find it helpful in choosing careers for key characters in an upcoming novel. If you’re a writer and can’t find the occupation you’re searching for this book, other ideas could crop up, so I recommend reading as many of the occupation descriptions as possible.
Profile Image for Ekta.
Author 14 books31 followers
July 15, 2020
In 2012, Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi, co-founders of Writers Helping Writers and One Stop for Writers, released the first edition of _The Emotion Thesaurus_, a reference guide that has become invaluable to writers. Much like a standard thesaurus, the book offers alternative ways to express various feelings. Since then, Ackerman and Puglisi have gone on to publish several other thesauruses, including those for personal traits and settings.

The latest resource to land on writers’ desks is _The Occupation Thesaurus_, and it takes the concept of a traditional thesaurus and elevates it. At first glance, providing a thesaurus for occupations may not make sense. Ackerman and Puglisi, however, keep their goal of helping writings in the forefront as they proceed with this book.

Opening the thesaurus to a particular occupation—Pharmacist, for example—will give writers, first, the basic overview of that occupation and a description of what a person in that field does. A pharmacist, according to the thesaurus, fills medical prescriptions and documents the medications a physician might order. The regard for a pharmacist is high, Ackerman and Puglisi point out, because of the immense trust customers place in the field in general. The entry then goes on to list the training needed to become a pharmacist and any skills or talents that a person would be able to apply to the job.

Then comes the goldmine of information that has become the touchstone of Ackerman and Puglisi’s reputations.

The entry lists character traits of people who enter that profession. For a pharmacist, the entry says that, among other things, pharmacists are “discreet” and “observant.” Next comes a list of possible sources of friction a character in a particular profession might encounter: dealing with a customer who has dependency issues, for example. In an effort to offer writers every avenue of information possible, entries also include ways to challenge the stereotype of a given profession and why characters might choose the job they do.

The entry is rounded off with how the occupation would impact the character’s needs, a reference to the work done by psychologist Abraham Maslow and his deduction that a person has five basic needs to be met before they feel fulfilled. Early in the thesaurus, Ackerman and Puglisi reprint Maslow’s pyramid and offer a quick explanation of the diagram as well as how these needs are tied directly to a person’s work.

The enormity of the work put into this book is obvious in every single entry. While at first glance a character’s choice of career or vocation may not seem to impact a story’s conflict or plot, Ackerman and Puglisi emphasize just the opposite. Every aspect of a character’s life, they say, impacts that character and how s/he interacts with other characters. When done well, a character’s occupation can play into the conflict, whether directly or indirectly, and add layers to a story that enrich it and make it stand out.

The biggest bonus comes in one of the appendices where the authors give writers a template to follow in order to help them determine what career or vocation a particular character might pursue. The flow chart leads writers through, essentially, an analysis of their characters and makes all of the information come together to create a solid three-dimensional character that will shine.

Ackerman and Puglisi also go above and beyond in offering writers possibilities of vocations and careers. “Pharmacist” and “flight attendant” are on the list of occupations to explore, but so are “model” and “air traffic controller.” The only things missing from this outstanding book are a writer’s imagination and dedication to writing the best story possible.

Another winner that should be on the shelf of every writer, Ackerman and Puglisi have outdone themselves with _The Occupation Thesaurus_.
Profile Image for Calvin Jim.
Author 10 books5 followers
July 21, 2020
The Occupation Thesaurus is the 7th and latest in the line of writers’ guides. As usual, the thesaurus begins with a series of informative articles geared toward how to use occupation to define a character. It begins with a discussion of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and why a character might be motivated to choose a particular career. Discussions regarding how careers characterize, how jobs can create tension and conflict, and how a character’s occupation can be used for character arcs and theme. The articles are well-researched and allow a writer to brainstorm ideas for story. Some tips on using occupations round out the well-researched articles before we get into the meat of the thesaurus: the list of over 100 occupations.

The occupations run the gamut from the ordinary (Chef, Barista, Lawyer) to the unconventional (Dream Interpreter, Food Critic, Personal Assistant to a Celebrity) to the unusual (Ethical Hacker, Food Stylist, Professional Mourner). It is not an exhaustive list (where is my YouTube/Social Media star? Podcaster is close, I suppose). I know I’ll be looking up the Professional Mourner and Crime Scene Cleaner for my upcoming novel.

Each entry is a two-page spread which includes a brief overview of the occupa- tion, the necessary training, and a list of useful skills and traits someone entering this job might have. If that wasn’t enough, the thesaurus also provides sources of friction, how the occupation would impact a character and how to twist the stereotypes: every- thing necessary to brainstorm ideas about character or plot or provide a jumping-off point to begin research into these professions.

As per usual, the entries are well-researched and detailed. They cover a wide- range of occupations you might find in contemporary North America, but may have to be adjusted if an author is writing outside of those geographic or temporal boundaries.

Is this an essential book? Does it rank up there with the best thesauri Ms. Ackerman and Ms. Puglisi have produced? No. The only one of their thesauri I consider essential is The Emotion Thesaurus. However, as another book about character, it ranks up there with the Positive and Negative Traits books and the Emotional Wound Thesaurus for designing characters. It provides yet another detailed examination of a way to define a character.

And like all the other thesaurus’ in the series, I’ll be purchasing a hard-copy for my writers’ reference bookshelf as soon as it is released.

All in all, this is a worthy addition to the thesauri that Ackerman and Puglisi have written. It is well-researched and covers a wide range of occupations. It is not an es- sential resource, but I still plan on getting my own hard copy to put on my shelf when I need to brainstorm some ideas.

I received an ARC of The Occupation Thesaurus in exchange for an honest review.

4.5 Stars out of 5
Profile Image for Cheryl Rainfield.
Author 13 books608 followers
July 19, 2020
A Great New Tool For Writers: The Occupation Thesaurus

Writers, if you want to add layers to your character and plot, you can add more by choosing a career that best fits your character’s personality or motivations, or that will bring greater tension to your story—and the best book to inspire you in this is The Occupation Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi.

An occupation for your character can help characterize them, generate conflict, reveal dysfunction, or reveal their passion and quirks. The Occupation Thesaurus details many jobs, giving an overview of each job; the useful skills, talents, or abilities for the job; helpful character traits; sources of friction; people they might interact with; how the job might impact your character’s needs; ways to twist the stereotype; and reasons a character might choose this profession. It is sure to spark your own thoughts on why and how an occupation may impact your character.

The Occupation Thesaurus doesn’t just describe many jobs, it also explores why your character might choose—or run from—a particular job, including because of their needs, emotional wounds, and interests and passions. It explains how a job can characterize your character, revealing personality traits, talents and skills, hobbies, economic status, and more, and the ways a job may bring tension and conflict. The articles are thoughtful and insightful, with concrete examples that make it clear how the profession you choose for a character can reveal more about the character, affect the storyline, increase tension, help your character achieve their goal, and even awaken a character’s need for change. This book is full of great advice for writers, including skipping the boring stuff, dismantling stereotypes, and being specific.

The Occupation Thesaurus also includes some great bonuses at the back of the book, including a worksheet; occupation speed dating (choosing an occupation from your character’s personality type); a career assessment worksheet and example; career assessment cheat sheet; and recommended reading list.

The Occupation Thesaurus will have you looking at occupations in a whole new way, delving deeper into the psychological, motivation, and need aspects, as well as the source of potential conflict or growth. Highly recommended.
1 review
July 17, 2020
In my twenty-plus years of teaching fiction techniques, I have only recommended a handful of books to my students and clients. That short list includes The Thesaurus Series of seven books by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi, the co-founders of Writers Helping Writers.
I now recommend their eighth book, another jewel in their series. The title explains the subject: The Occupation Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Jobs, Vocations, and Careers.
As writers, our primary goal is to create believable, sympathetic, fully engaging characters. To reach that goal, we can use the OCCUPATION THESAURUS to add layers of flesh to our characters’ bones.
Through their occupations and vocations, characters will gain depth and seem more alive.
In real life, our professions and vocations identify, label, and define us as people. Likewise, in fiction, professions and vocations can identify, label, and define your characters to magnify their appearances on paper as living, breathing story-people. Too, through the judicious selection of your characters’ professions and vocations, you can insert logic into their thoughts and actions, and emotion into their reactions to story situations.
The authors begin their occupation thesaurus with instructive essays that serious writers should read, carefully, since each one is a mini-writing lesson. The topics are: motivations behind career choice; careers that characterize; jobs as sources of tension and conflict; jobs that support story structure and character arc; and vocations as thematic devices.
The mini-lessons preface treatments of 124 professions, in alphabetical order from Actor to Yoga Instructor.
The authors closed their useful writing tool with appendices: Appendix A Occupation Speed Dating; and Appendix B Career Assessment. They also supplied additional resources for further research.
Without question, the Occupation Thesaurus is a convenient, readable book for writers who wish to add flesh to bones.
Profile Image for Kate Mclaughlin.
264 reviews3 followers
July 1, 2020
I am a big advocate of the Writers Helping Writers Thesaurus series, The Occupation Thesaurus being the eighth book brought to us by the curators of The One Stop for Writers website. It follows a similar format to the previous books, with the first 10-15% of the book giving an in-depth on how the thesaurus works with regards to the psychology and motivation of your characters.

Now Angela and Becca are clear that to list all occupations would be endless but those referenced in the Occupation Thesaurus are from a wide spectrum, covering something in most employment sectors. Even if your character's specific job is not listed, the needs, traits ideally suited to, sources of friction, even twisting the fictional stereotypes section provoke questions that will lead to your own character's motivations and will help to develop your characters back story.

For many people, their job defines them, it may not be the only thing to define them, but when asked people normally list their job before they say they are a parent. One of the most common questions when getting to know someone is “what do you do for a living?” and that opens a list of other questions, that most find it hard to answer. The Occupation Thesaurus helps to answer those sometimes-awkward questions. It’s understanding this backstory that helps you to engage with your characters and in turn, the readers engage with your story.

At the back of the book are charts with ideas as to what occupation may be suited to a specific character trait and a character career assessment page, and our ever-helpful authors provide a cheat sheet,

Finally, because the authors know that the list of occupations would never be complete, they list websites to search for more information as well as a list of recommended reading to help you create a powerful novel with realistic characters.

To sum up, The Occupation Thesaurus is a 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 rated, essential guide, to help you to build realistic characters, giving them a backstory that will make them more engaging to your readers and ultimately help you to write a wonderful story.

I would like to thank Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi for allowing me to read an advance copy of The Occupational Thesaurus, giving me an opportunity to write an honest review before publication on the 20th of July 2020.

Useful Links:

Want to see the list of jobs included in Angela & Becca’s new THESAURUS BOOK releasing July 20th? Here it is, The Occupation Thesaurus: https://writershelpingwriters.net/lis...
#writing #amwriting

Profile Image for Clennell Anthony.
Author 2 books2 followers
July 22, 2020
I have to say that as a writer, I never really thought to find such a comprehensive guide concerning professions. Every time I have had to research an occupation in several different books and sources, but now, I can flip through this thesaurus. Yes, it's true there are some professions that are not present, but there are so many in the book. What I truly enjoyed about this book was that it wasn't just a list of occupations and their functions. In the beginning of the book, the authors offer a rationale for how this can improve the overall development of a character. I never really thought of it that way. After reading this book, I realized how important a character's occupation can be to the development of the character but how the audience/reader perceives the character. Will the character be the typical individual within their profession, or will this character step outside the box and surprise the reader and him/herself as well? It's an interesting concept and it has made me aware of a part of my character development that may have needed a little work. So, thank you ladies for a great book full of wonderful information and ideas. I have to say it has given me a few creative ideas along the way while I read. CSA
Profile Image for Nancy.
Author 37 books100 followers
July 20, 2020
What a treasure for a writer. The Occupation Thesaurus belongs on a shelf with writer's reference books. From the job overview to training to character traits that work best, the details in each job entry give plenty of ideas for deepening a character and bringing them to life. Learn what might cause friction in the job or what character might choose that job and the background that might bring that choice about. I highly recommend this reference book, The Occupation Thesaurus. Thank you to the authors for the early copy in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Annie Lima.
Author 28 books162 followers
July 20, 2020
I found this to be a really useful resource. I anticipate using it for every book I write from now on, to make sure I pick the right occupation for each character and describe the details of their job well. I definitely recommend the Occupation Thesaurus - it would be a great addition to any author's toolbelt. It might even be useful for someone researching a new possible career for themselves!
Profile Image for Shannon O'Connor.
Author 57 books720 followers
September 25, 2021
this was SO incredibly helpful to me as an author. Sometimes I struggle to write outside of what I know and this is the perfect guide to help you over that bump.
4 reviews
July 2, 2020
I am a relatively new author of fiction (although I wrote legal briefs for 40+ years) and I own every one of this series of books. I am so glad that I bought my very first one, The Emotion Thesaurus, that one book lead me to all the others. I am still amazed at the material contained in each book. I had to get in on the ground floor of this book because the others help me EVERY DAY.

This one, The Occupation Thesaurus, is awesome. I practiced trial law in NY and around the country for many years and came in contact with all types of professions and occupations. I can't fathom how the authors assembled all this high quality and accurate information. For me one of the most important parts of each book is the "Introductory Educational Material" provided. Each book, but this one in particular, gives you the reasons why the topic is imporant and how you can utilize the listings. Sure it's nice to know what a firefighter does, but the key is understanding why she chose this profession and how it influences everything she does.

I can not recommend this book highly enough. I'll admit I got to see the e-book version early as part of the launch team but I can assure you I must have the hard copy and will be one of the first to order it when available.

Mike Emminger
Profile Image for H.M. Shander.
Author 39 books327 followers
July 3, 2020
The Occupation Thesaurus is yet another tool in the writers toolbox. Having read the other guides in this series, I knew I would find many useful tips, and I was not let down.

There are many occupations listed that I hoped would be in there, and there were many new career fields that some of my upcoming characters may have a career change. ;) As a writer who spends hours fleshing out little details about her characters, I especially loved the first few chapters where you really get to dig into a character's motivation for their career choice and finding a career that characterizes. It takes you beyond the character who you've simply given a job to and helps find a career that better supports their emotional wounds and backstory, which ends up giving a lot more depth to your character's choices.

I, for one, will be purchasing a hard copy of this when it's available to add to my collection (the whole series is fantastic, btw). I think it's an absolute must for the writers who want readers to have a deeper connection to the characters we give life to.
Profile Image for Lila Diller.
Author 11 books45 followers
July 3, 2020
This is going to be so helpful! I love the beginning where the authors give many reasons for choosing specific occupations and how to weave them into your story without dumping all the “boring stuff.”

It shows how the occupations of your characters can add layers of meaning, theme, and conflict. Then it lists dozens of specific occupations and helpful information, such as a general overview, necessary training, useful skills, talents, or abilities, helpful character traits, examples of how it could be used as a source of friction, people they might interact with, how this occupation might impact the character's needs, twisting the fictional stereotype, reasons why characters might choose this profession.

I will be using this resource for years to come!

(I received this book for free from the author. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions are my own, as was my decision to write a review.)
Profile Image for Jarm Boccio.
Author 1 book31 followers
July 30, 2020
Angela and Becca have done it again! If you have never experienced one of their thesauri, it's a must for writers. It is so comprehensive it could be used as an MFA course. Find dozens of career entries, besides the psychological effects, positive and negative aspects and the personality type that might possibly be a good fit for that occupation. It's a writer’s best friend!
Profile Image for Brenda Felber.
Author 16 books7 followers
June 30, 2020
Hooray, another thesaurus from Angela and Rebecca at Writers Helping Writers, which is exactly what these two do...they help writers! From their website to the previous five thesauruses, we authors are presented with an abundance of invaluable details, references, and inspiration. This newest addition hits at a particularly important point in my writing career as I'm starting a new series. I've already earmarked pages of careers of characters I'll be creating. The sources of friction for each career is intriguing...after all, fiction writing involves conflict! I was sent an ARC of The Occupation Thesaurus to review and do so gladly. The Emotion Thesaurus has been in my library for years and I've added the others as they were published. I highly recommend them all!
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