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 list of ideas 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: 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…
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….
Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: a 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….
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…
People They Might Interact With: other dealers, customers, auctioneers, experts in various fields (historians, archaeologists, etc.)…
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…
- 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…
- Safety and Security: Antiques are expensive, and, therefore, valuable. A dealer’s safety and security may be threatened…
Common Work-Related Settings: antiques 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…
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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Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling.
Every time you ladies put up a post or put out a book, I am in awe of the amount of research and work you must do to accomplish what you do. Just amazing and appreciated beyond what words can express 😀 <3
You should do one for Pawn Shops owners.There are Pawn Shops that specialize in antiques.
I would add an interest in history and historical items to the list of useful skills, talents and abilities. I work at a Pawn/Antiques shop and this is the first job I’ve had that actually makes use of my history degree. We also deal with people downsizing and getting rid of stuff, and get a lot of stuff at yard sales. My boss used to be a car salesman, which gives you an idea of his personality, but has also been collecting since he was a kid. Not the kind of guy you’d picture collecting stamps and coins!