Occupation Thesaurus Entry: Librarian

Before I jump into today’s entry, I want to wish Becca HAPPY BIRTHDAY.  She’s one of the very best things that’s  happened to me, I love her to death, and basically I want the whole world to make her feel special today.  🙂 So, please, if you see her poking around Twitter or Facebook, send her a virtual cake or birthday high five!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Becca. I hope you have a wonderful day!

Jobs are as important for our characters as they are for real people. A character’s career might be their dream job or one they’ve chosen due to necessity. In your story, they might be trying to get that job or are already working in the field. Whatever the situation, as with any defining aspect for your character, you’ll need to do the proper research to be able to write that career knowledgeably.

occupation thesaurus, character jonbs, librarianEnter the Occupation Thesaurus. Here, you’ll find important background information on a variety of career options for your character. In addition to the basics, we’ll also be covering related info that relates to character arc and story planning, such as sources of conflict (internal and external) and how the job might impact basic human needs, thereby affecting the character’s goals. (See this post for more information on this connection.) It’s our hope that this thesaurus will share some of your research burden while also giving you ideas about your character’s occupation that you might not have considered before.

Occupation: Librarian

Overview: Today’s modern librarian is highly-educated, passionate about technology, and an expert at connecting people with relevant information.  They are unafraid of technological advances, are adaptable, and what seems like a love of books on the surface is actually a thirst for knowledge. They are well-organized, good with people, enjoy being facilitators of education and can manage tight budgets, resources, and staff.

Necessary Training: Most librarians must obtain a degree in library science, often a master’s. If they work in a facility which is specialized, they often will have a special focus or additional accreditation in that area (such as a law librarian). However, a librarian in a small town or school may not have the same education, say, as a librarian at a reference library tasked with curating specialized academic research. Schooling may be obtained in person (attending a campus), or mostly through online college programs (virtual learning).

Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: A knack for languages, charm, empathy, enhanced hearing, exceptional memory, good listening skills, hospitality, mechanically inclined, multitasking, photographic memory, reading people, strategic thinking, writing

Helpful Character Traits: Adaptable, alert, ambitious, analytical, centered, charming, confident, cooperative, courteous, creative, curious, decisive, diplomatic, disciplined, discreet, efficient, focused, friendly, hospitable, imaginative, independent, industrious, intelligent, nurturing, observant, organized, passionate, patient, pensive, perceptive, persuasive, protective, resourceful, responsible, socially aware, studious, thrifty, wise

Sources of Friction: Patrons who are disruptive, people who are careless with books, tight budgets, having to let someone go because of a conflict or budget need, working with uppity authors or experts who are holding events in the library, book theft, people writing in books, damage to property or resources (books, the copy machine, carving into tables, etc.), having patrons fight over popular books, late fees that are difficult to collect

People They Might Interact With: other librarians, interns, volunteers, teachers, students, parents, patrons, book groups, authors, handymen, computer techs, booksellers, delivery people, professors

How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:

  • Self-Actualization:  Characters who greatly prize knowledge would be drawn to this position, so any threat to the librarian’s ability  to access information could cause them stress and grief. Living during a time when propaganda caused poisoned viewpoints and led to book burning or censorship would be very difficult, for example, because it not only restricts access to unbiased information, it also disrespects books by presenting biased, incorrect information as fact.
  • Esteem and Recognition: A character who loves books may view her library as an extension of herself (or himself). If this was the case and budgets cut running costs to the bone, the character may become desperate to do something that will allow a ramshackle library to regain glory days, bringing back that lost pride.
  • Love and Belonging: A character who views their library as home will be devastated if cutback cause their job to be eliminated or force the library to close. The character would be desperate to do whatever it took to turn things around to retain employment and keep the doors open.

Common Work-Related Settings: the stacks, storage rooms, a lamination or printing room, a staff break room, bathrooms, reading corners, special sections and restricted-access rooms for special editions

Twisting the Stereotype:

Most librarians are women, so flip the script to a male.

The “dowdy and strict” matronly librarian is played out, so make your librarian young and enthusiastic. And don’t forget, he or she is in a job where they deal with the public and love being facilitators of knowledge. The stuffy, angry librarian who hates everyone under 50 is not a logical choice for this profession, anyway.


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One Stop For Writers December Deal: 25% off All Plans

This is a bit scary, but do you realize we are less than three weeks from Christmas? THREE WEEKS, people. I feel like a giant, multi-tentacled time-eating monster came along and made a buffet out of the calendar. I mean, it seems plausible…or, like a story I should write.  Hmm. *scribbles notes*

Either way, Lee, Becca, and I want to pass around some serious high fives as we roll toward the end of the year.  You guys killed it on the 2017 writing stage, especially all the brave souls who tackled NaNoWriMo last month. Whether you hit 50K or not, well done!

If you feel like giving yourself a reward, an early holiday gift, or want to make an investment in your writing career, consider cashing in on this great deal: all One Stop plans are currently 25% off for the month of December.

Simply register, then use the code, SANTA_APPROVED on the Subscription page, choose your plan, and ka-pow, you’ll get a 25% discount on your first invoice.

And did you know? One Stop for Writers® is expanding…again!

We have just added 14th description thesaurus to our OS library database.

This addition, the Character Motivation Thesaurus, looks at different story goals in fiction and provides a boatload of ideas on how your character can achieve their goal, what obstacles may stand in their way, what sacrifices they might need to make and what is at stake if they fail. Story planning has never been easier.

Need another reason to check out One Stop for Writers? How about…

To celebrate the coming holiday, we’ll be giving some lucky new subscriber a free 1-year subscription to One Stop. Just sign up using the 25% off code above and BOOM, you’re in the draw.

A reminder:  we do have Gift Certificates, if you were looking for something to say thank you to a critique partner, or if you have family members needing gift ideas for you. Just click on the tag to the left. 🙂

And speaking of gift ideas, if you are looking for this year’s mega list of Unique Gifts for Writers, you can find that HERE.

Happy writing, all!


Posted in About Us, One Stop For Writers, Stocking Stuffers, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

10 Ways to Goose the Muse


Calliope, the muse of epic poetry and story, is a fickle goddess. She drops in depending on her mood, tickles the imagination, and then takes off to party with Aphrodite. Homer famously called on the muse at the beginning of The Illiad and The Odyssey, and she deigned to answer the blind poet. But many another author, cold and alone in his garret, has cursed her for not showing up at all.

So what do you do, scribe? Wait around for a visit? Implore Zeus to flex some muscle and order his daughter to your office or Starbucks?

No! You haven’t got time to waste. You’ve got books to write. So I suggest you take the initiative and set about to prod the capricious nymph out of her scornful lethargy.

How? Play games. Set aside a regular time (at least one half hour per week) just to play. And the most important rule is: do not censor yourself in any way. Leave your editorial mind out of the loop and record the ideas just as they come. Only later, with some distance, do you go back and assess what you have.

Here are ten of my favorite muse-goosing games:

1. The “What if” Game

imagination, story idea, creative writing, muse, writing a story

This game can be played at any stage of the writing process, but it is especially useful for finding ideas. Train your mind to think in What if terms about everything you read, watch or happen to see on the street. I’m always doing that when waiting at a stop light and looking at people on the corner. What if she is a hit-woman? What if he is the deposed president of Venezuela?

Read the news asking “What if” about every article. What if the new host of the Today Show was an AI robot? What if that nice cooking-show star was a serial killer (working title: Deadly Beets)?

2. Titles 

Make up a cool title then think about a book to go with it. Sound wacky? It isn’t. A title can set your imagination zooming as it looks for a story to go with it.

Come up with ten titles right now that go with your genre preference. Tweak them until they “hit the spot.”

3. The List

Ray Bradbury Wikimedia Commons

Early in his career, Ray Bradbury made a list of nouns that flew out of his subconscious. These became fodder for his stories.

Start your own list. Let your mind comb through the mental pictures of your past and quickly write one- or two-word reminders. I did this once and my own list of over 100 items includes:

THE DRAPES (a memory about a pet puppy who tore my Mom’s new drapes, so she gave him away the next day. I climbed a tree in protest and refused to come down)

THE HILL (that I once accidentally set fire to).

THE FIREPLACE (in front of which we had many a family gathering).

Each of these is the germ of a possible story or novel. They are what resonate from my past. I can take one of these items and brainstorm a whole host of possibilities that come straight from the heart.

4. See it

Let your imagination play you a movie. Close your eyes. Sit back and “watch.” What do you see? If something is interesting, don’t try to control it. Give it a nudge if you want to, but try as much as possible to let the pictures do their own thing. Do this for as long as you want.

5. Hear it

Music is a shortcut to the heart. (Calliope has a sister, Euterpe, goddess of music. Put the whole family to work!)

Listen to music that moves you. Choose from different styles–classical, movie scores, rock, jazz, whatever lights your fuse–and as you listen, close your eyes and see what pictures, scenes or characters develop.

6. Stealing from the Best

If Shakespeare could do it, you can too. Steal your plots. Yes, the Bard of Avon rarely came up with an original story. He took old plots and weaved his own particular magic with them.

So did Dean Koontz. He amusingly winks at us in Midnight about combining Invasion of the Body Snatchers with The Island of Dr. Moreau.

Listen: this is not plagiarism! I once had a well-meaning but misinformed correspondent wax indignant about my tongue-in-cheek use of the word steal. There are only about twenty plots (more or less depending on who you talk to) and they are all public domain. You combine, re-work, re-imagine them. You don’t copy what another author has done with characters and setting.

7. Cross a Genre 

All genres have conventions. We expect certain beats and movements in genre stories. Why not take those expectations and turn them into fresh plots?

It’s very easy to take a Western tale, for example, and set it in outer space. Star Wars had many Western themes (remember the bar scene?) Likewise, the Sean Connery movie Outland is High Noon on a Jupiter moon. The feel of Dashiell Hammett’s The Thin Man characters transferred well into the future in Robert A. Heinlein’s The Cat Who Walks Through Walls. The classic TV series The Wild, Wild West was simply James Bond in the old West. A brilliant flipping of a genre that has become part of popular culture

When zombies got hot a few years ago, I pitched my agent the idea of a legal thriller series with a zombie as the lawyer-hero. I figured most people think lawyers and zombies are the same anyway. Kensington bought it and it became the Mallory Caine zombie legal thriller series under my pen name, K. Bennett.

8. Research

James Michener began “writing” a book four or five years in advance. When he “felt something coming on” he would start reading, as many as 150 to 200 books on a subject. He browsed, read, checked things. He kept it all in his head and then, finally, he began to write. All the material gave him plenty of ideas to draw upon.

Today, the Internet makes research easier than ever. But don’t ignore the classic routes. Books are still here, and you can always find people with specialized knowledge to interview. And if the pocketbook permits, travel to a location and drink it in. Rich veins of material abound.

9. Obsession

By its nature an obsession controls the deepest emotions of a character. It pushes the character, prompts her to action. As such, it is a great springboard for ideas. What sorts of things obsess people?

  • ego
  • winning
  • looks
  • love
  • lust
  • enemies
  • career

Create a character. Give her an obsession. Watch where she runs.

10. Opening Lines

Dean Koontz wrote The Voice of the Night based on an opening line he wrote while just “playing around”–

“You ever killed anything?” Roy asked.

Only after the line was written did Koontz decide Roy would be a boy of fourteen. He then went on to write two pages of dialogue which opened the book. But it all started with one line that reached out and grabbed him by the throat.

Joseph Heller was famous for using first lines to suggest novels. In desperation one day, needing to start a novel but having no ideas, these opening lines came to Heller: In the office in which I work, there are four people of whom I am afraid. Each of these four people is afraid of five people.

These two lines immediately suggested what Heller calls “a whole explosion of possibilities and choices.” The result was his novel, Something Happened.

Well, I could go on, but this post is already too long. If you’re interested, I have 10 more of these games in my book, Plot & Structure.

The main lesson: don’t let the inconstant Calliope rest on her mythic derriere. She’s a muse, after all. This is what she’s supposed to do.



Jim is the author of the #1 bestseller for writers, Plot & Structure, and numerous thrillers, including, Romeo’s Rules, Try Dying and Don’t Leave Me. His popular books on fiction craft can be found here. His thrillers have been called “heart-whamming” (Publishers Weekly) and can be browsed here. Find out more about Jim on our Resident Writing Coach page, and connect with him online.



Posted in Resident Writing Coach, Uncategorized, Writer's Block | 7 Comments

Antiques Dealer

Jobs are as important for our characters as they are for real people. A character’s career might be their dream job or one they’ve chosen due to necessity. In your story, they might be trying to get that job or are already working in the field. Whatever the situation, as with any defining aspect for your character, you’ll need to do the proper research to be able to write that career knowledgeably.

Enter the Occupation Thesaurus. Here, you’ll find important background information on a variety of career options for your character. In addition to the basics, we’ll also be covering related info that relates to character arc and story planning, such as sources of conflict (internal and external) and how the job might impact basic human needs, thereby affecting the character’s goals. (See this post for more information on this connection.) It’s our hope that this thesaurus will share some of your research burden while also giving you ideas about your character’s occupation that you might not have considered before.

character development, occupations, outer motivation, story goals

Occupation: Antiques Dealer

Overview: In a nutshell, antiques dealers purchase vintage items and re-sell them. This requires extensive knowledge in the field, including the ability to tell true antiques from fakes, knowing how much certain items are worth, and being able to sell them. Dealers may own their own shop or work with other dealers. They may work with general antiques or be specialized in certain areas, like particular items (art, furniture, coins, jewelry, etc.), a specific time period or setting (Egyptian antiques, Victorian era items, Hollywood nostalgia, etc.), or certain hobbies and interests (car racing, stamp collecting, fishing and hunting, etc.).

Necessary Training: Most up-and-comers in this field start out in an apprentice-like position, such as being an assistant to a successful dealer or an intern in an auction house. Higher education isn’t required, though some courses (such as art appreciation, history, and business basics) can supplement one’s knowledge and skills.

Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilitiesa knack for languages, a knack for making money, charm, exceptional memory, gaining the trust of others, haggling, promotion, reading people, strategic thinking,

Helpful Character Traits: Ambitious, charming, confident, cooperative, courageous, courteous, curious, decisive, devious, diplomatic, disciplined, enthusiastic, extroverted, friendly, greedy, industrious, intelligent, passionate, patient, persistent, persuasive, professional, responsible, studious

Sources of Friction: Dishonest sellers who try to pass off fakes as authentic antiques, ambitious competitors stealing customers and horning in on one’s business, doubts about one’s knowledge in certain areas, having to trust an “expert” associate to evaluate an item but being unsure of their abilities, lack of funds to buy the items one needs to build up inventory, purchasing an expensive item but being unable to find a buyer for it, a catastrophe in the shop that ruins one’s inventory (a fire, a burst pipe, vermin or mold that ruins the merchandise, etc.), inept or untrained associates overpaying for items, selling an item one thought was authentic and it turning out to be a fake, being unable to properly restore a purchased item

People They Might Interact With: other dealers, customers, auctioneers, experts in various fields (historians, archaeologists, etc.), museum docents and owners, sales associates, people associated with one’s store (a landlord, janitors, delivery people, the owner)

How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:

  • Self-Actualization: Those dealing with antiques are likely passionate about what they do; their job is not only a career but also their passion. Self-actualization can be threatened when that passion is threatened—say, when working for an unethical shop owner who encourages one to undervalue merchandise or knowingly sell fakes, or when one is forced to focus on an area of specialization that doesn’t pique one’s interest.
  • Esteem and Recognition: In a career field like this, a person’s level of knowledge of their subject area can mean the difference between success or failure. When a dealer doubts their own knowledge, or when others respected in the field doubt that person’s abilities, this need can become impacted.
  • Safety and Security: Antiques are expensive, and, therefore, valuable. A dealer’s safety and security may be threatened if their collection makes them vulnerable to theft or attack by armed individuals.

Common Work-Related Settingsantiques shop, art gallery, black-tie event, garage sale, mansion, museum, thrift store, auctions, flea markets, estate sales, antiques shows

Twisting the Stereotype:

  • Because antiques are expensive, the dealer is usually portrayed as sophisticated, fashionable, and suave. What about a dealer who is slovenly and scruffy but has a keen eye for antiques and does well in the business?
  • Also, consider how the type of antiques your dealer focuses on could set him or her apart. Rugs, furniture, and Civil War memorabilia are common specialties. But what about someone who collects ancient torture devices, artifacts associated with serial killers, or ancient items known to be haunted?
  • It might also be interesting to have a dealer who acquires his knowledge of antiques through an unusual method. Think Connor MacLeod from Highlander, whose collection consists of the items he’s collected from his many years living as an immortal.
Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Holiday Gifts for Writers: The Ultimate List

It’s that time of year again, and Writers Helping Writers is in GIFT MODE. Becca is so on point with this stuff, always the thoughtful gifter. I think I’ve got a good idea for her this year, and together we’ve sent some suitably fun-slash-disturbing gifts to our third musketeer, Lee Powell.

In my internet travels for great writerly gifts, I’ve come across some deliciously unique choices. So if you’re looking for something beyond the usual “writer mug” gift for a writer friend (or yourself!), you’ve come to the right place.  Can I get a drum roll, please…



This seemed like a good place to start, because a traditional pairing is writers and booze. Some believe partaking helps to soothe the demons in our writerly souls, others, to aid in coping with the torment of publication. (I think it’s a bit of both.) Either way, why not give something truly unique to a writer you know, like this Absinthe-making kit? Nothing like nourishing the muse with the Green Fairy. Or they can craft up another spirit, like Mead, Whiskey or Gin. Maybe they’ll name a bottle after you!



After all that booze, your writer friend should really eat something, because hangovers aren’t fun. With this official Game of Thrones Cookbook, they can rustle up some good eats and then settle down to re-read the series or binge-watch a season or two.

But what if your friend isn’t much of a gourmet cook? Well, for a foodie minimalist, this Walking Dead Cookbook might be more their speed.



One terrific thing about writers is how we love to read! Sometimes we plow through so many we forget which we’ve finished.

When it comes to the classics, we feel an extra rush of reading enjoyment. After all, don’t we all hope to one day pen a story that becomes beloved by generations? So if your nightstand has a few oldies, keep track of them with this Literary Scratch-off Chart of the Classics. A great gift!



We like to make people cry, don’t we? I mean the good kind, the, Oh-my-gosh-this-is-so-thoughtful-I-can’t-even cry.  Well friends, you can be the bringer of many happy tears by creating a custom scarf made from a writer’s own manuscript.

Becca gave this to me last year, and I LOVE IT (and maybe cried a little at the thoughtfulness. MAYBE). You can also get T-shirts for literary classics, so spend some time checking out Litographs.



Sure, some writers are monsters and fold a corner to mark their place *points at self* but for the more discerning reader, well, they actually like to use a bookmark. And dang it, if we’re going to make books our passion, we need to have cool bookmarks…ones that light up, make us think of hobbits and magic and inspire us to transport our own readers to unique worlds.



While your writer friend is reading late into the night, something happens: it gets dark. Such is life. So is the solution to turn on the light and be blinded by the suddenly over-bright white page? Heck no!

Instead, we give them a very bookish light to keep the mood going: the rechargeable Luminate Book light



We all like to binge watch…it’s a guilty pleasure. Well, guess what? Writers can binge AND cram more education into their writing noodle with Michael Hauge & Christ Vogler’s Hero’s 2 Journeys video series.

(We are total Michael Hauge fans here at WHW, and recommend his books, classes, and videos to everyone.)



Many of you know Becca and I released The Emotional Wound Thesaurus in October, tackling one of the MOST IMPORTANT and ESSENTIAL topics in storytelling. It can also be one of the most difficult to master, so we created a 90-minute Master Class webinar on the topic.

You can grab a webinar recording for an unbelievable $10 as we are fundraising to help a writer and her family rebuild after losing their home in a fire. Every cent goes toward helping them rebuild. So pay-it-forward and take advantage of this amazing deal at the same time.



Speaking of upping your writing craft, sometimes you can’t go wrong with a great book. And hey, this is something that Becca and I just might be able to help with.  🙂

Somewhere along the way, people got the idea that thesauruses (or thesauri, if you prefer) are “boring.” If you’ve sampled any of our books you know that this couldn’t be further from the truth!

So why not assimilate your writing friends into our glorious Thesaurus Lovers Cult, er, I mean, Club, and show them how these writing guides are changing the game for scribes everywhere!

If you are looking for other writing craft books, check out Amazon’s Best Sellers and Most Wished For. Or visit our page of personal recommendations.



Okay, I might not be a genius, but I bet your writer friend could probably use something to write in, am I right? Well if they happen to be a big fan of Netlix’s Stranger Things, this notebook is sure to make their day.

(Throw in a box of Eggos and you’ll probably be elevated to “Coolest Friend” status.) You can find this awesome Demogorgon book here.


You know us, we always save the best for last. Becca and I love to help writers on this blog, and through our collection of writing books. But most of all? We love helping via One Stop for Writers®, a site we built with Lee Powell, the creator of Scrivener for Windows.

One Stop has the biggest description database of its kind (14 thesauruses and counting), is packed with amazing novel planning and character creation resources, and allows Becca & I to channel our imagination into building unique tools that actually make writing easier.

For the writer who likes having EVERYTHING at their fingertips, One Stop for Writers gift certificates are available. And if they want to take a spin around the site first, they can! Registration is always free.

Need more ideas? Check out our 2016 list.

Building your own Top Writing Gift List? Feel free to link to ours, or use our Thesaurus books & One Stop for Writers promotional copy & images if you would like to include them on your list. 🙂

What sort of writerly goodness do you hope to find under your tree this year? Let us know in the comments!

Posted in Emotion Thesaurus Guide, Emotional Wound Thesaurus, One Stop For Writers, Positive & Negative Thesaurus Guides, Setting Thesaurus Guides, Software and Services, Stocking Stuffers, Uncategorized, Writing Craft, Writing Resources | 6 Comments

3 Tips To Creating A Time Bomb Plot Device

One of the things we always want as writers is to keep readers engaged, to hold their interest all the way from Page One to The End. The Ticking Time Bomb scenario can be really effective for this, and Jonathan Vars is here to give us some tips on how to put it to good use in our stories.

Tension: it’s the tempo that keeps your story flowing at a rapid pace with readers quickly flipping the pages to find out what happens next. Creating tension brings a story to life; it draws in the all-important emotional element that will keep your audience hooked.

story tension time bomb ticking clock hook your reader

One of the important things to remember is that tension comes in many different forms, each with a unique set of features that can be implemented in your story. One of the most effective uses of tension is The Time Bomb: an imminent disaster which looms closer and closer with each tick of the clock.

If written correctly, a time bomb plot device can keep your readers captivated from page one, breathlessly waiting to find out if the hero can save the day before the clock counts down to zero. Although there are many factors to keep in mind when including this plot device, there are three major points to consider for it to work.

Stress the Consequences

The tension of a time bomb lies in the gravity of the disaster that will occur once the hands of the clock come together. With this being the case, it is absolutely vital that the reader understand fully the consequences of the situation. To convey this adequately, know the answers the the following questions:

• What does the protagonist stand to lose?
• How will other characters be affected?
• How will the central plot be altered by the clock reaching zero?

Other tips to keep in mind:

• Make use of arguments and stressful dialogue sequences
• Emphasize the current time remaining as the clock ticks down
• Don’t be afraid of repetition in dialogue, as this is quite natural in high-stress situations

One important aspect to remember is that lives don’t necessarily have to be on the line to evoke tension. Your audience can be just as emotionally invested in a high school basketball game with only a few seconds left on the clock. Remember: stress the consequences so readers know what’s at stake

The Aggravator

The next area you’ll need to focus on is the Aggravator: the obstacle, obstructionist, or entity standing in the way of the protagonist. Think of the Aggravator as the “builder” of the time bomb.

Nearly always represented by the central antagonist, the Aggravator is the presence thwarting the protagonist in his or her attempts to stave off calamity. The Aggravator serves as a source of added tension and frustration to the reader; where the protagonist presents a solution, the Aggravator presents a problem.

Other tips to keep in mind:

• Allow the Aggravator to gain the upper hand initially; picture an ominous voice whispering “tick tock, tick tock” into the phone
• Similar to stressing the consequences of the time bomb itself, make the Aggravator and his/her potential to hinder or thwart a solution fully known
• The Aggravator does not have to be represented by a human; it be something as simple as a locked door

Also, the Aggravator doesn’t have to be “evil” for him or her (or it) to work for your story. If your plot centers around a young girl starring in a middle school play, the Aggravator can manifest in the form of stage fright or a sudden sore throat on the night of the performance.

False Turns

The last factor in the trifecta of time bomb tension is the concept of false turns. If your story has already placed readers on the edge of their seats, a false turn will send them all the way to the floor.

Picture this: The hero races through the building, the killer right behind him. As he stumbles against a doorway, his car keys fall out of his pocket and he continues on without noticing.

This, in a nutshell, is a false turn: the critical mistake that drains away precious time. The purpose of this technique is to ratchet an already tense situation up several notches.

Other tips to keep in mind:

• Information breakdown is an excellent way to send your protagonist off in the wrong direction
• Make use of your aggravator; allow him or her to manipulate events and confuse or mislead the protagonist
• Don’t forget about stressing the consequences! If your hero makes a wrong turn, make sure the audience understands the implications

While it may seem uncomfortable or foreign to allow your protagonist to take false turns or make mistakes, allowing this will not only heighten tension surrounding your time bomb plot device but will also provide realism for your character.

A time bomb plot device is an incredibly efficient way to evoke tension for your readers. Investing the energy to fully develop all three factors will keep your audience hooked from page one. And don’t forget to vary your approaches with these techniques, dialing the tension up or down to suit your story.

Jonathan Vars is a Christian fiction writer from New England, and founder of the writing website voltampsreactive.com. His latest novel “Like Melvin” is currently available on Amazon and Google Books. In addition to writing, Jonathan enjoys running, painting, and trying not to freeze to death in the winter.

Posted in High Stakes, Tension, Writing Craft, Writing Lessons | 4 Comments

Occupation Thesaurus Entry: Human Test Subject

Jobs are as important for our characters as they are for real people. A character’s career might be their dream job or one they’ve chosen due to necessity. In your story, they might be trying to get that job or are already working in the field. Whatever the situation, as with any defining aspect for your character, you’ll need to do the proper research to be able to write that career knowledgeably.

human test subject, occupation thesaurus, jobs, character jobs, characterizationEnter the Occupation Thesaurus. Here, you’ll find important background information on a variety of career options for your character. In addition to the basics, we’ll also be covering related info that relates to character arc and story planning, such as sources of conflict (internal and external) and how the job might impact basic human needs, thereby affecting the character’s goals. (See this post for more information on this connection.) It’s our hope that this thesaurus will share some of your research burden while also giving you ideas about your character’s occupation that you might not have considered before.

Occupation: Human Test Subject

Overview: A human test subject is someone who agrees to be part of an experiment that either involves a clinical trial (taking drugs, vaccines, supplements, or having a medical device used) to see what the effects are, or they offer biological contributions (blood, saliva, sperm, urine, skin cells, dandruff, or whatever is being tested) or have dermatological studies of their conditions. The test subject may part of a social science experiment to analyze behavior. In these studies they may be asked specific questions, asked to perform specific cognitive tasks, or be exposed to different conditions that can alter the test subject’s physical, mental, and emotional state. In any study, the participant might be part of the test group or the control group, and they usually do not know which.

Test subjects may be chosen for specific reasons (they have a specific type of cancer, they suffered frontal lobe damage after an accident, they experience a specific phenomena like synesthesia, etc.), or they may not, depending on what is being tested. They may be asked to adhere to specific routines (exercise routines, sleep routines, etc.), dietary changes, and abstain from taking any medication, supplements, or mood enhancers for the duration of the trial.This is especially important for clinical trials as researchers must be able to see cause and effect clearly when it comes to treatments or drugs, understand the effects and the side effects to better determine risk factors.

A character wishing to be a test subject would have to provide consent to be part of the study. They exchange money for their participation, and are highly regulated to prevent unethical experimentation. There are risks to this job–if something goes wrong (a painful side effect, an addiction) the private companies may pay for some medical help, but often not enough for what is needed, and there’s no compensation for time lost at work, ongoing pain or long term symptoms.

Other (safer types) of test subject gigs would be to fill out surveys, participate in panel discussion for market research, test toys or other products, or even participate in mock trials.

Necessary Training:
No training necessary, but one must fit the perimeters of the study. If the group is not random selection, the character might need to be within a specific high and weight range, be in good overall health, abstain from alcohol and other enhancements, and often be free of drugs and supplements (even over the counter ones) for a month before the trial begins.

Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: charm, exceptional memory,  good listening skills, high pain tolerance, multitasking, reading people


Sources of Friction: Being asked to do things within the trial that are uncomfortable, painful, or embarrassing, growing bored at repetitive tasks or long hours put in at the lab performing tasks and answering questions, being in a test group with people one doesn’t like or get along with, experiencing symptoms that may or may not be normal but they impact one’s life (a sudden loss of libido, headaches, craving certain things, having to urinate much more often, etc.); feeling manipulated be researchers, suffering a side effect or reaction that requires medical care and getting the runaround to avoid responsibility

People They Might Interact With: other test subjects, researchers, administrative staff, psychologists, doctors, dieticians, medical students

How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:

  • Safety and Security: some tests (especially clinical trials) could have lasting negative effects that may not show up for years or even decades and the character would have no recourse.
  • Love and Belonging: Family members and close friends would likely not understand nor support the character’s choice to be a test subject, creating a lot of friction within one’s relationship as pressure to stop wound be constant.
  • Esteem and Recognition: A character who chooses to go down this road may not have sufficient regard for their own health, indicating some self-esteem issues. Or, if the character is only thinking of the quick money and not the full possible repercussions, the character may experience a self-esteem crisis down the road if they experience regret when it sinks in that they took foolhardy risks when they shouldn’t have, leading to questions of self-worth as dis-empowering beliefs take hold.
  • Self-Actualization: If there is a lasting side effect as a result of the testing that disrupts a skill or ability, it may keep them from achieving a specific type of meaningful goal, leaving them feeling cheated.

Common Work-Related Settings: a laboratory, a bathroom, medical areas for drawing blood, change rooms, study rooms, waiting rooms

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Escape The Slush Pile: Elements of a Successful Query Pitch

Heads up! Pitch Pro Sarah Isaacson has a Query Clinic here PACKED with info to help you escape the slush pile. For length, my intro is short, so read on for a bounty of query advice gold to put into action.

The purpose of a pitch is to hook a reader or land an agent. You must be able to describe your entire passion project in a concise and compelling manner. But how do you accomplish this effectively without losing the heart of your work? I break it down beat-by-beat in this query clinic.

The Pitch: Your pitch must consist of the following: the protagonist, setting, conflict or villain. It must display the title in all CAPS (not italics) and provide the genre, word count, and an author bio. Additionally, it is most compelling if it can be done in or around 300 words.

The Hook: The best pitches also have a hook—a sentence that sums up the entire book in less than 25-words. Kind of like the logline you see on movie posters. The very best of them include irony. Irony is “an action which has the opposite, or different effect than the one initially desired.” Irony is what twists your plot and forces your characters to grow.

Slush Pile of DOOM

 Check out these killer hooks:

  • Imprisoned, the almighty Thor finds himself in a lethal gladiatorial contest against the Hulk, his former ally. Thor: Ragnarok

(Irony: friends turned to foes)

  • Set in the South, a crusading local lawyer risks everything to defend a black man unjustly accused of a terrible crime. To Kill a Mockingbird

(Irony: a white southerner defends an African-American man, also present: binaries of white/black, law/crime)

  • As he plans his next job, a longtime thief tries to balance his feelings for a bank manager connected to one of his earlier heists, as well as the F.B.I.The Town

(Irony: the criminal falls for his victim, also a play on Stockholm syndrome)

The Body: Here is what goes into the body of your pitch beat-by-beat:

  • Protagonist and setting—present the main character’s world as it is.
  • Catalyst or conflict—the moment where everything changes. The theme is stated.
  • But there’s a debate because change is scary—she could gain something or lose everything—tension, risk.
  • The plot or journey begins and sometimes the “B” story or supporting character (lover, friend, or mentor) can go here.
  • Depending on the story, this is the moment where the protagonist gets what they think they want, or things turn for worse. Because sometimes what we want, isn’t what we need. Either way, it’s tense and uncertain!
  • The villains are closing in, all is lost. This is emotional. The bottom. Doubt, fear, or a serious problem arises—it takes everything to regroup.
  • Now a shining inspiration (or advice from the “B” story friend/lover/mentor) helps our protagonist realize that what they’ve lost makes way for something new. It’s time to try again.
  • Rather than give away what happens in your final act or chapters, end here on a question or statement that circles back to the irony or theme within the hook. Can she? Will they?

Ready for the Query Clinic? You tweeted, I listened. #WHWPitch winners

Kaylee Myhre Errecaborde and Amy Lane have both been generous to let us showcase their “before” and “after” pitches for this exercise. Read with a critical eye and see if you can pick out the beats in each.

[ALL THE RULES OF HEAVEN “BEFORE” word count: 425]

If Tucker Henderson could list a profession, it would be “Karma’s bitch.” Tucker is an empath whose one-night-stand bedmates wake up with a life-changing epiphany.  Refusing the “call” to use this rather odd power has tragic results, and Tucker has long since learned that his life is not his own. He combats the bitterness and anger of being trapped into a life of meaningless sex by enjoying the small things–food, a free day, and the few moments of human connection he shares with his bedmates.

When Tucker inherits Daisy Place, he’s pretty sure it’s not a windfall–everything in Tucker’s life has come with strings attached. He’s prepared to do his bit to satisfy the supernatural forces that have dicked with his life so far, but he refuses to be all sweetness and light about it.

Angel was sort of hoping for sweetness and light.

Angel has been trapped at Daisy Place for over fifty years. In the beginning, he helped Tucker’s late aunt exorcise the ghosts–Aunt Ruth would tell the stories in his presence and the ghosts would find peace. When Tucker shows up to take over Ruth’s job, Angel vows to be more accommodating and “human” than he was with Ruth–but Tucker’s layers of cynicism and apparent selfishness irritate Angel almost immediately. Angel has no way of knowing that Tucker has given pretty much everything a man could want–home, family, friends, goals–in order to serve mankind as his gift demands.  Which is fair, because Tucker has no way of knowing that Angel is not a ghost.

Although he’s forgotten how he arrived, Angel is in fact, an angel–he was lured by the lush humanity of Daisy Place, and became trapped between worlds, just like the ghosts Tucker must exorcise. He’s hoping that once the weight of souls is cleared from Daisy Place, he will be able to ascend to the heavens again, free and clear of all the pesky human detritus that has so cluttered the crumbling mansion that trapped him here on earth.

Or that was his goal before Angel met Tucker.  Angel finds Tucker to be an irritating, baffling, kind and empathetic human puzzle, and he finds himself changing forms and genders as a response to his roller-coaster emotions. Can Angel retain his divine intentions when his heart is proving all too human?

Angel never expected to love Tucker; Tucker never expected to love his soul-crushing job.  Divine forces insist they work together–but can they exorcise Daisy Place before they drive each other insane?

[ALL THE RULES OF HEAVEN “AFTER” word count: 180]

Tucker Henderson’s soul-crushing job leads him to Daisy Place where he meets Angel, the genderbending spirit that will either drive him insane or set him free.

Tucker is technically destiny’s dick. He’s an empath whose one-night-stands wake up with a life-changing epiphany—great for them—not so good for him. But refusing the “call” to use his odd power has tragic results. Embittered by his divine duty of revelatory sex, he struggles for his own comfort between every hookup. Then he inherits Daisy Place. He’s pretty sure it’s not a windfall—everything in Tucker’s life has come with strings attached. He’s prepared to satisfy the supernatural forces that suck the soul out of him, but he isn’t expecting Angel, a multi-gendered energy who’s been stuck at Daisy Place for over 50 years. Tucker has one mission and Angel has forgotten his purpose. Now divine forces insist they work together—but can they exorcise Daisy Place before they drive each other insane?

ALL THE RULES OF HEAVEN is an Urban Fantasy complete at 94,000-words and is part of a planned series.


I’m pleased to introduce my upmarket historical fiction, A THOUSAND NIGHTS IN PATAGONIA. The novel is a vividly re-imagined tale of one of Western America’s most notorious outlaws and the woman who will define his fate.

It is 1899 and the American frontier is being swept away with the railroad. Etta, equally as beautiful as naive, is morosely out of place in the parlor houses of Hell’s Half Acre, Texas. She is hopelessly alone and trapped within a life she doesn’t want. Meanwhile Harry is infamous for his crimes, worn-down by his run from the law and wondering how the life he’d hoped for–a simple life–had slipped from his grasp. A heinous crime made in desperation will bring them face to face, sending them running from the lives they know, running from the people they’ve been.

And so begins a beguiling historical account of two outlaws misjudged. From the harsh realities of the American West, to the streets of New York City, Harry is a man destined to find his heart and his future in the enigmatic landscapes of Argentina, and in the honest truth of Etta. But his crimes in America are too great to be forgotten. Pursued by detectives once again, he will be forced to make an impossible choice–to follow his heart and renounce his past, or be immortalized as the man he most fears in order to save the woman he loves.

The story of Harry and Etta is as extraordinary as it is tragic. At 95,000 words, the novel is meticulously researched. Far outside the legendary tales of ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,’ the story of Harry and Etta is waiting to be told.


One of Western America’s most notorious outlaws lives on his own terms, until he falls for the woman who will define his fate.

The year is 1899 and the American frontier is being swept away with the railroad. Beautiful, naïve Etta is out of place in the parlor houses of Hell’s Half Acre, Texas. Infamous for his crimes, Harry is worn-down by his run from the law, and wondering how the simple life he’d hoped for has slipped from his grasp. When a desperate crime brings Harry and Etta face-to-face, they must run from the people they’ve been. Now begins an historical account that traverses the harsh realities of the dusty American West, to the streets of New York City. Harry is a man destined to find his heart in Etta and his future in the enigmatic landscapes of Argentina. But his crimes in America are too great to be forgiven. Hounded by detectives, he will be forced to make an impossible choice: to follow his heart and renounce his past, or be immortalized as the man he most fears to save the woman he loves.

A THOUSAND NIGHTS IN PATAGONIA is a vividly re-imagined upmarket historical fiction. Far outside the legendary tales of ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,’ the novel is meticulously researched and complete at 95,000-words.

Did the AFTERS draw you in? Could you track all the key query elements? Is there anything you would add, cut, or change? Questions, comments…please, let us hear your thoughts!

Need help getting noticed in the slush pile? Sarah can help!

Sarah Isaacson specializes in screenplay pitches, book jackets, and novel queries that pop. Her writing experience spans from movie trailer copy to Warner Bros. She’s worked in TV and film from Indie to Disney and has read more novels than she can count.

Follow her at @unofficiallysarah on Instagram or @sarahisaacson1 on twitter.


Posted in Agents, Critiquing & Critiques, Guest Post, Publishing and Self Publishing, Rejection, Revision and Editing, Uncategorized | 7 Comments

How to Tell If Your Story Needs a Resolution


One of the last things you’ll consider for a story is whether to write a resolution. This short sequence of scenes (or a single scene) after the climax can conclude secondary storylines, offer a glimpse into the protagonist’s new life, or pull a last-minute twist that changes everything. But in certain instances, a resolution might not be warranted. Some writers prefer omitting the resolution altogether, in favor of ending the story as soon as the climax is over.

So, the question we’re posing today is, “Does my story need a resolution?”

The answer is… it depends on what else needs closure after the main conflict has been addressed.

OK, that advice is a little murky. So let’s make it clearer with what we’ll call our Two Questions for Determining the Need for a Resolution.

Question #1: Do any subplots need to be resolved for the story to feel complete?

Most stories, especially novels, have secondary stories (a.k.a. subplots) supporting the main conflict. Friendships might be tested, romances might blossom, and so on. By the end of the story, readers will want to know how those subplots end. Are the protagonist and his sidekick still friends? Did the love interests stay together? Were other important questions answered?

Including a resolution after the climax will allow you to wrap up any subplots in a satisfying way. You can also choose to tie up those threads before the climax, or leave one or two hanging for a sequel. But as Becca warns here, you don’t want to risk annoying or angering your readers with the latter approach.

Question #2: Does a brief look at the results and consequences of the climax enhance the sense of completion without making the story too long?

Sometimes the final scenes or chapters show what happens as a result of the climax. Maybe there’s an unexpected reunion, or a glance at how the protagonist’s world and life have changed. In this way, using the resolution to present such moments can enhance the sense of closure or highlight the story’s most important themes. It can also heighten the emotional impact of the ending, making the story that much more memorable.

When a Resolution Strengthens a Story: J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series

J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels each present a resolution after its climax. For example, during the climax of the first book Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry confronts Professor Quirrell and discovers his teacher is after the titular Stone – and the evil Lord Voldemort is living as a parasite in Quirrell’s body. A magical showdown ensues, and it looks like Harry might not win… and then he wakes up in Hogwarts’ hospital wing, with Professor Dumbledore, the school’s headmaster, by his bedside.

From there, Rowling uses the resolution of Sorcerer’s Stone to craft a concise yet thorough conclusion. Harry learns how he managed his victory over Quirrell / Voldemort, what happened to the Stone, and why Dumbledore believed its destruction was necessary. Other questions are answered as Harry reunites with his friends, all of whom are later rewarded for saving the school from disaster. And as the school year closes and students return home for the summer, readers can finish the book satisfied with the ending, thrilled for the characters’ accomplishments, and excited about what lies ahead in the sequel.

Most of the later Harry Potter novels follow a similar formula with their resolutions. Harry acts as the reader’s eyes and ears for the results and consequences of each climax, including the effects each has on the supporting characters. He also typically meets with Dumbledore and receives more information that clarifies past events and added wisdom that eventually shapes Harry into the young man he becomes by the series’ end.

Let’s now examine the resolution of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone using our Two Questions:

1. Do any subplots need to be resolved in order for the story to feel complete?

Yes. Without a resolution, readers would have been left wondering whether Harry survived, whether Quirrell / Voldemort had gained possession of the Stone, and what happened to Ron, Hermoine, and other characters. Also, since the book is targeted for a middle-grade audience, it’s important to answer these questions and offer closure – and reassurance – to young readers through these additional scenes.

2. Does a brief look at the results and consequences of the climax enhance the sense of completion without making the story too long?

Yes. The last four scenes of Sorcerer’s Stone reveal the results of Harry’s showdown with Quirrell / Voldemort and their impact on other characters and the world at large. It also emphasizes the book’s themes of courage, friendship, and good versus evil, and injects a sense of hope and excitement for the next school year.

When a Story Does Not Need a Resolution: Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray

Since resolutions are a common part of storytelling, it’s easier to find novels that end with a resolution than ones without. So what happens in the rare instance when a resolution isn’t necessary? The novel would need to accomplish the following, which would lead to “no” answers for our Two Questions:

1. The story wraps up its subplots before or during the climax, so there isn’t much left to resolve once it ends.

2. The end of the climax has a strong sense of completion, and might hint at potential results or consequences that could happen after the ending.

These reasons don’t mandate a cliffhanger ending (though you can write one, if you want). Rather, they imply that a story accomplishes both points well enough that a resolution isn’t warranted. It’s also important to note that stories without resolutions typically end as soon as the climax is over or a couple pages after.

A great example of a resolution-less story is Dorian Gray’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. This dark psychological classic follows a handsome young man who sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty, then embarks on a lifetime of hedonism while a portrait of him grows hideous to reflect his sins. But did you know that the novel’s climax, where Dorian stabs the portrait only to have his own curse kill him instead, happens on the second-to-last page?

Yes. By then, Dorian has dabbled in drugs, broken a young actress’s heart (which led to her suicide), blackmailed his friends, and murdered two men, including the artist who painted his portrait. Even his “companionship” with Lord Henry Wotton, who encouraged Dorian’s self-indulgence from the beginning, appears to have ended after Henry pokes fun at Dorian for wanting to change for the better.

So when Dorian attempts to destroy his portrait, the main conflict – Dorian’s internal struggle with his tarnished self – is all that’s left to address. The final page does show pedestrians hearing Dorian’s dying screams and his servants finding his body and the changed portrait moments later. Yet these moments are part of the climax, not a resolution. The gruesome discovery in particular is not a result or consequence of the climax, but rather the end of the main conflict.

A much different ending than that of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, right? So let’s evaluate why The Picture of Dorian Gray’s absence of a resolution works using our Two Questions:

1. Do any subplots need to be resolved in order for the story to feel complete?

No. All of the subplots, including Dorian’s relationships with other characters, are resolved before Doran “confronts” his portrait.

2. Does a brief look at the results and consequences of the climax enhance the sense of completion without making the story too long?

No. Some readers might be interested in an additional chapter that shows Henry’s and other characters’ reactions to Dorian’s death. But since the novel focuses on Dorian and his downward spiral, adding more scenes after the climax would serve no purpose.

In the End, It Depends on What You Believe the Story Needs

Remember that the key to a story’s ending is closure. A resolution can provide this if certain subplots still need to be addressed after the main conflict is over. But if all questions have been sufficiently answered, and if writing more scenes might make the story too long, then maybe a resolution isn’t necessary.

That decision is yours to make. Yes, it’s more common for stories to have a resolution than to not have one. But in the end, no one but you, the author, can determine if your story is stronger with or without those extra scenes. You don’t have to write a resolution because most stories include one. It simply has to feel right for the story you want to tell. And if your decision makes sense to your readers, it could mean the difference between a good story and a great one.

What are your thoughts about resolutions in a story? Have you ever struggled with choosing if a resolution was needed after a story’s climax? If so, what did you decide? Also, what are some of your favorite stories that either had a purposeful resolution or worked well without one?

sara-_framedSara is a fantasy writer living in Massachusetts who devours good books, geeks out about character arcs, and drinks too much tea. In addition to WHW’s Resident Writing Coach Program, she writes the Theme: A Story’s Soul column at DIY MFA and is hard at work on a YA/New Adult magical realism manuscript. Find out more about Sara here, visit her personal blog, Goodreads profile, and find her online.
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Posted in Endings, Story Structure, Uncategorized, Writing Craft | 14 Comments

Occupational Thesaurus Entry: Interpreter

Jobs are as important for our characters as they are for real people. A character’s career might be their dream job or one they’ve chosen due to necessity. In your story, they might be trying to get that job or are already working in the field. Whatever the situation, as with any defining aspect for your character, you’ll need to do the proper research to be able to write that career knowledgeably.

Enter the Occupation Thesaurus. Here, you’ll find important background information on a variety of career options for your character. In addition to the basics, we’ll also be covering related info that relates to character arc and story planning, such as sources of conflict (internal and external) and how the job might impact basic human needs, thereby affecting the character’s goals. (See this post for more information on this connection.) It’s our hope that this thesaurus will share some of your research burden while also giving you ideas about your character’s occupation that you might not have considered before.

interpreter, character occupations writing a story fiction writing characterization

Occupation: Interpreter

Overview: An interpreter is someone who orally or through sign language translates one person’s words into a different language. This is different from a translator who does essentially the same thing but with words in a written format, such as in books or documents. Interpreters work most often in hospitals, schools, and courtrooms, but they also can work at conferences, in political arenas, with the police when language barriers are preventing communication, and other situations. They may work with a an interpreter company or do freelance work. On long or challenging jobs, they can work in teams as a way of combating mental fatigue. They can work on-site or offer their services remotely, even from home.

Necessary Training: Most interpreters need a bachelor’s degree and all of them must be  proficient in at least two languages. While further language training isn’t required, the more experience one has with a given language, the better; so having spent time immersed in the language and culture may give someone a leg up of the competition. Those working in certain fields, such as the medical field or courtroom, may need technical training in that area to bring them up to speed.

Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilitiesa knack for languages, charm, enhanced hearing, exceptional memory, good listening skills, lip-reading, multitasking, reading people, extreme focus

Helpful Character Traits: charming, confident, cooperative, courteous, decisive, diplomatic, focused, friendly, honest, honorable, just, objective, observant, professional, simple, studious

Sources of Friction: Impatient clients who expect immediate and perfect translations, showing up for a job and being asked to interpret a language one isn’t as comfortable with, not knowing the context of the conversation being spoken and being unable to interpret it accurately, a sickness that makes it difficult to focus, noisy environmental distractions that make it difficult to hear, hearing something that gives birth to a moral conflict (hearing something that would be in one’s best interest or the interests of others to interpret incorrectly, being asked by a client to interpret something incorrectly to someone else), mental fatigue from a long day of interpreting compromising one’s ability to work, a competitor who is more knowledgeable in a preferred language than one is, having to take on interpretation jobs that aren’t stimulating or interesting, working with a fellow interpreter who isn’t up to the job (due to ineptitude, inebriation, or illness), workplace politics that ensures the most desired jobs go to someone who isn’t necessarily the best, friction with family members due to the amount of time one spends traveling on the job, uncooperative suspects or witnesses who use the language barrier to avoid incriminating themselves (suspects) or getting involved (witnesses, especially those worried about immigration or repercussions of helping the police)

People They Might Interact With: other interpreters, administrators within the firm where one works, people specific to each job’s working environment (doctors, nurses, medical patients, lawyers, judges, social workers, administrators, students and parents, teachers, diplomats, leaders of foreign countries, CEOs and other business people, the police, etc.)

How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:

  • Love and Belonging: Someone in this field would likely have a love for the language(s) of their preference, and if a spouse or significant other showed no interest in learning that language or exploring the culture, it could cause friction. Problems may also arise if the interpreter’s job requires frequent travel.
  • Esteem and Recognition: This need could take a hit if the character’s level of skill in a certain language is surpassed by a co-worker’s—someone who seems to flourish without having to try while the character has to work like a dog to remain proficient.
  • Self-Actualization: As with any career, self-actualization becomes compromised if the job is no longer fulfilling to the character. Ask yourself: why did they pursue this job in the first place? What (if anything) has changed that makes them now unhappy in this career? Is there another occupation they’d rather have? What is it, and why?

Common Work-Related Settings: courtroom, hospital room, principal’s office, boardroom, juvenile detention center, police station, black-tie event, limousine, airplane, office cubicle, government buildings and offices, embassies, hostage situations

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