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.
Below is a sample version of this entry to help you see how an occupation can reveal your character’s beliefs, history, goals, and more.
To view the full entry, visit One Stop for Writers where it resides within the largest fiction-based descriptive database ever created. (Free Trial available.)
Occupation: Emergency Room Physician
Overview: An ER Physician is a doctor specially trained in trauma who assesses and stabilizes patients admitted to the ER. Different from a trauma surgeon, a ER physician will order lab tests and ex-rays (and interpret the results), administer medication, and deal with a large variety of injuries and illnesses. They may do basic emergency surgery in crisis situations, but with a focus on stabilization so other specialists can then take over. They can carry out or oversee life-saving procedures, set broken bones, attend to lacerations, and …
Note: hospitals themselves may determine the type of injuries seen most often in the ER. Depending on geography, designation, and other factors, some may deal with more trauma and violence-related injuries than others.
Necessary Training: Medical programming that covers theory, labs, and clinical rotations at the undergraduate and graduate level, obtaining a M.D. Degree. These doctors then enter into a program for emergency medicine to…
Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: a knack for languages, basic first aid, charm, exceptional memory, gaining the trust of others…
Helpful Character Traits: adaptable, analytical, confident, decisive, disciplined, focused, intelligent, meticulous, observant, patient…
Sources of Friction: a large-scale crisis with not enough resources and staff to handle it, patients who are violent or unpredictable, patients who are untruthful about their medical history, long hours and exhaustion causing burnout, hospital politics getting in the way of patient care, uninsured patients and moral dilemmas, a staff shortage due to illness, egos causing relationship fallout among staff, office romances and bad judgement, mislabeled medicines or errors on charts that lead to medical crises…
People They Might Interact With: other doctors, surgeons, nurses, support staff, police, paramedics, police detectives, family members, insurance representatives…
How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:
- Physiological Needs: Exposure to contagions put one at risk for illness, and stress, lack of sleep, and other factors can cause serious physical repercussions…
- Safety and Security: violent patients could create ER escalations that cause injury or death, grieving family members could act on a vendetta for the loss of a loved one, a questionable diagnosis…
- Love and Belonging: The long hours and high stress leave little time for love and family. Many broken or distanced relationships…
- Esteem and Recognition: A lawsuit or accusation could drag one into the court system or damage one’s reputation with one’s peers and the community. Age, the onset of an illness, or another factor could also…
- Self-Actualization: This career requires sacrifices, often of other needs. This could lead to the character experiencing regret later in life for the opportunities missed…
Common Work-Related Settings: Boardroom, break room, emergency room, hospital room, morgue, waiting room
Twisting the Stereotype: ER Physicians are often the “perfect ideal” on steroids–intelligent, fit, the best of the best. Why not choose a ER doctor that has a disability or disfigurement that, rather than hold him or her back, make them exceptional, or the doctor overcomes it through sheer tenacity?
Visit the other Occupations in our collection HERE.
How will your character’s occupation help reveal their innermost layers?
Much of your character’s life will revolve around their work, and whether they love it or hate it, their job is a great way to show, not tell, their personality traits, skills, work ethic, worldview and beliefs, and more, so we should choose it with care.
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Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, a portal to powerful, innovative tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
I love this!
Can you do one for Psychic Tarot Card Reader?
Another GREAT occupation! Another fanTASTic entry, ladies 😀