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.
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.)
Below is a sample list of ideas to help you see how an occupation can reveal your character’s beliefs, history, goals, and more.
Overview: An architect is responsible for designing physical structures, such as homes, office buildings, shopping centers…
Necessary Training: An college degree in architecture is required to pursue this career. You must also acquire a license to practice from the local state or municipality, which is granted upon completion of an internship and…
Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: Multitasking, strategic thinking
Helpful Character Traits: Ambitious, analytical, confident, cooperative, creative, diplomatic, disciplined…
Sources of Friction: Indecisive clients who keep changing their minds, having to jump through bureaucratic hoops in regard to licensing and permissions, nitpicky inspectors, a worker being hurt or killed on the job, the structure one has built being faulty and injuring the inhabitants…
People They Might Interact With: other architects, construction workers and contractors, clients, inspectors…
How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:
- Self-Actualization: Many architects enter the profession hoping to work in a certain field, but that desire doesn’t always pan out, and they end up doing more generic work. In this case…
- Esteem and Recognition: An architect who is unable to distinguish himself (due to being given uninspiring projects, being surrounded by architects who are more talented or creative, or through personal doubt and insecurity) may begin to…
- Safety and Security: Construction sites are high-risk places and are rife for accidents if workers aren’t paying close attention. An architect who…
Common Work-Related Settings: Break room, construction site, elevator, office cubicle, parking garage, parking lot, waiting room
Twisting the Stereotype: Historically, architects were male; this stereotype is changing, but it’s good to keep in mind, and get the women involved in this career. It’s common for architects to become associated with a certain kind of structure or building. Why not get your architect involved in…
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.
JOHN T. SHEA says
Thanks for this! My WIP is set largely on an ocean liner and has a naval architect as a major character. He rebuilt the very old ship and keeps it going through all sorts of danger and mishaps. He became a more important and useful character than I first expected, explaining technical matters in accessible language for both other characters and the reader.
We writers are like architects in a way, planning (or pantsing!) our stories and erecting them level by level. Unlike most architects though, we can and do go back and improve (hopefully!) our work even after it’s first ‘finished’.
BECCA PUGLISI says
I love this! When I think “architect”, I think in terms of buildings, but there’s definitely crossover into other large-scale structures someone could design.
Jan Rydzon says
Occupational Thesaurus Request: Advice Columnist
Can’t wait for the character building tool!
BECCA PUGLISI says
Thanks, Jan! We’ve added it to the list of possibilities.