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: Exotic Dancer
Overview: An exotic dancer can be male or female, and work in a variety of venues such as bars, gentlemen clubs, as in-home entertainment (such as a birthday party or retirement party), or at special events (bachelor parties, Ladies’ Night, clubs, porn industry award shows and after parties, etc.). Exotic Dancers may take off all their clothing, only some, or simply tease while taking nothing off at all. They must be personable, have excellent hygiene, be..
Necessary Training: An exotic dancer usually has some dance skills, and possibly formal training (a ballet background, time in theater, etc.) that aids in their ability to provide a strong performance. Dancers must also be…
Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: a knack for making money, charm, exceptional memory, gaining the trust of others, good listening skills…
Helpful Character Traits: ADAPTABLE, ADVENTUROUS, AMBITIOUS, ANALYTICAL, BOLD, CHARMING, CONFIDENT, COURTEOUS, CREATIVE, CURIOUS, DIPLOMATIC, DISCIPLINED, DISCREET, EASYGOING…
Sources of Friction: clients who ask for dances and then can’t pay, clients who get grabby or who pass beyond the legal boundary of what is allowed during the dance, stalkers, other strippers who poach clients, work drama and jealousy, management who do not respect the dancers, getting involved in drugs and performing poorly as a result, growing older and being out-staged by younger dancers, hecklers in the audience…
People They Might Interact With: clients, the spouses of clients, bouncers, other dancers, management, DJs, wait staff, kitchen staff, event organizers…
How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:
- Safety and Security: Dancers may be targeted by obsessive clients who misread the attention as affection.
- Love and Belonging: A romantic partner may not be understanding or supportive of one’s particular type of employment, creating friction in the relationship. It is also possible that…
- Esteem and Recognition: Family and friends may not understand one’s career choice and look down on it or make…
Common Work-Related Settings:
Bars, dance clubs, strip clubs, gentlemen clubs, home venues, special event areas, private penthouse parties
Twisting the Stereotype: How about a exotic dancer who is intelligent, and chooses this line of work because he or she loves it? Or perhaps the character works in this industry as an outreach specialist to identify and aid vulnerable individuals. How about a dancer who is…
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.