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.
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 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, 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 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?
- 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.