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. 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.)
Overview: Taxidermists are trained in the art of animal preservation, restoring a variety of animals to a lifelike state, drawing out their original beauty and strength. Taxidermists often have specialties, which may include pets, fish, reptiles, birds, small animals, or large game. They may have a small shop where they handle pets and local wildlife, or may focus more on animal trophies (either in an area where many hunter frequent, or as more of a commercial operation that deals in exotic animals). A few highly skilled taxidermists also work with natural history museums…
Taxidermists are both male and female and view their profession as artistic. Most are very passionate about recreating the breath of life through their work. It requires a certain artistic eye and attention to detail as certain aspects of the animal must be incorporated in the preservation, such as an accurate account of muscles in movement so this can be recreated in death. Some practitioners in this field will take on any job that they feel skilled to handle as work can be sporadic or revolve around hunting seasons…
Necessary Training: There are several certificate and diploma programs for this field but a degree is not necessary. Courses cover anatomy, interpreting reference material, and the mounting techniques, processes, and tool handling required to prepare carcasses. Students also learn how to treat and tan skins…
A person is required to have a license to practice, they may need special permits to work with migratory birds or endangered species, and they must abide by regulations set by fish and wildlife. The exact licenses or permits may vary…
Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: a way with animals, carpentry, empathy, multitasking, photographic memory, repurposing, sculpting…
Helpful Character Traits: calm, cautious, centered, creative, focused, imaginative, independent, nature-focused, observant, resourceful, talented, thrifty
Sources of Friction: clients who don’t pay or who have impossible demands, being asked to prepare an animal that was an illegal kill, people who discriminate against one for the type of work one does, having difficulties keeping a seasonal business afloat…
People They Might Interact With: neighbors, hunters, wildlife officers, commercial agencies, delivery people, locals
How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:
- Self-Actualization: A character who sees this career as their life’s work as a way to honor the dead by giving them beauty in death would be devastated if an accident or illness damaged their ability…
- Esteem and Recognition: Characters in this job may struggle to be given the recognition they deserve for their artistry…
- Love and Belonging: Building loving relationships with a romantic partner may be an obstacle as…
Common Work-Related Settings: basement, bookstore, garage, hardware store, taxidermist, workshop
Twisting the Stereotype:
- Taxidermists are often men, so choosing a woman might be a way to freshen this profession
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.
Traci Kenworth says
I like the suggestions for breaking te stereotypes.
ANGELA ACKERMAN says
Thanks–me too! Makes me want to write someone with this profession. 🙂
JOHN T. SHEA says
Thanks for this. PSYCHO’S Norman Bates immediately springs to mind, but that’s my mind for you! Also the English philosopher Jeremy Bentham, who sits to this day preserved in a large glass-fronted cabinet in the University College of London, with his severed head at his feet.
ANGELA ACKERMAN says
Gruesome! (I am now going to have to google that, lol.) 🙂
Fabrizio Palasciano says
Thank You Angela for this useful article. I suggest a movie called “El Aura” starring Ricardo Darin in the role of a taxidermist. He totally fits in the traits that you described.
All the best.