I’ve been a huge fan of Angela and Becca’s Description Thesauri series. I’ve spoken at length on many of the books released so far and while everything can be found on writershelpingwriters.net, most of them have paperback versions which I feel should be mandatory for all authors looking to hone their craft and improve their own writing.
The Occupation Thesaurus focuses on, you guessed it, jobs! A character doesn’t necessarily have to have a career, depending on the story being told, but having an occupation can improve the character and make them feel alive in your world.
The book releases July 20th, but I was fortunate enough to grab an ARC of the book and discuss this new entry in great detail. So let’s see what’s in store.
The core of the book
Occupations can be a challenging thing to incorporate into a story. It’s not as simple as “this person has a job.” Sometimes knowing about the job the character holds not only makes the character more interesting, but makes the world around you that much more realistic. When you think about it, even knowing how occupations outside of your core cast can flesh your world and make it believable.
This book goes into detail, as it usually does, and incorporates numerous genres and themes. Occupations for the usual fare–bakers, accountants, teachers–are present and useful, but other like bounty hunters, chocolatiers, crime scene cleaner, ethical hacker, and plenty of others. It’s amazing how multipurpose this guide can be between genres. While there’s nothing specific to any singular genre (Sorry, no info on how to be an archmage or a bard), you can apply this to any career in any setting. That crime scene cleaner could be a patrol guard for a kingdom. Of course space pirates and bounty hunters go hand and hand. And who wouldn’t want to be an ethical hacker in any genre.
Some people don’t think about these details because many of us use the bare minimum. A chef cooks, the cops arrest people, teachers…well, teach. You don’t have to have a degree to understand the career in depth, but it certainly helps to know a little more about your career choice for your characters where applicable.
Let’s go over the structure of each entry and how they can help you improve your world and your characters. Like the other thesauri, each section spans two pages on paperback and each section explains in detail how you can show the reader what it’s like to work in that field. Since I have it as of writing, up, I’ll use Fashion Designer as an example.
Basic description of what the job entails and fun facts that fo along with it.
Requirements for holding such a job. Helps to flesh out the character and their history, while also making sure the character is appropriate for the job (age, gender, location, time period, etc.)
Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities:
Think of a job application and what is required of this position. Skills necessary to perform well or realistically in their position.
Helpful Character Traits:
How a person should act or perform at this job. Lists of traits expected of this career.
Sources of friction:
An interesting section that I feel doesn’t get shown a lot in books. Jobs get stressful, but how would you show that and even incorporate it into this universe. Examples such as “lack of clientele, having multiple deadlines, always being away from family,” really flesh these characters out and makes the world realistic to enough of a degree to incorporate conflict as well.
People they might interact with:
How this occupation might impact the character’s needs:
This sections details how the career might affect them as a character and their goals in the story. If they were hired in the story, they might change throughout, and as much as it would be nice, we often get tired of our jobs and it affects us both mentally and emotionally.
Twisting the fictional stereotype:
Stereotypes are boring, outdated, and are too easy to fall back to. If authors intend to spice up the job for their character, this section shows how. I appreciate this being in the book because it’s too easy to fall back on the tried and true.
Characters might choose this profession because they…:
A reason why a character might pick up this career. Again, helps flesh the character, their backstory, and gives them both a purpose, a goal, and potential conflict.
As you can see here: not every occupation is listed. That’s why this book comes with a worksheet to add your own as needed. You may feel content with what’s listed, but others need more, and this sheet helps with the entries provided already.
I also show an example provided (admittedly prior to obtaining this ARC) on how this could help. You can definitely treat this like a job interview, which is it’s own career should you choose to have your character be one, and it definitely helps to think like one. Is this person qualified? Do they have the necessary skills? Would it benefit the plot should the character accept the job? Who hires them?
These are questions authors need to ask as far as crafting a realistic world. With that in mind, The Occupation Thesaurus provides a fantastic look at what is otherwise an afterthought when it comes to crafting a story. Reading this will force you to consider how their careers affect both the characters and the world. This is yet another fantastic addition to the description thesaurus series. If you’re a fan like I am, definitely grab this one. If you’re new to these books, I’d recommend starting with The Emotion Thesaurus, which has a new edition out, to get a vibe for how these books work.
That’s all for today. Take care, and remember, the inn is always open.