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 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: Auto Mechanic
Overview: Mechanics inspect, repair, and maintain vehicles. Some have a general knowledge of all vehicle engines and parts while others specialize in an area, choosing to focus on a certain type of vehicle (cars and trucks, big rigs, boat engines, imports) or specific…
Necessary Training: While some shops require their mechanics to receive post-secondary education and become certified through various programs, not all of them do. Completing these programs does, however, improve one’s chances of being hired and making better money. Educational opportunities can be found…
Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: Hot-wiring a car, mechanically inclined
Helpful Character Traits: Alert, analytical, curious, focused, honorable, independent, industrious, meticulous, observant, resourceful, responsible, studious
Sources of Friction: Being unable to correctly identify the problem with a vehicle, missing a problem that results in an accident, inattentiveness on the job that leads to an injury, old or sub-standard machinery in the shop, irate customers, difficulty keeping up with changes in the industry, falling behind in one’s training or certification, not making enough…
People They Might Interact With: Car owners, other mechanics, the shop owner, vendors, inspectors
How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:
- Self-Actualization: A character might become dissatisfied with his career if it began as a temporary endeavor or has turned into something he never intended. Perhaps he wanted to work on race cars or own his own shop, but his plans never materialized…
- Esteem and Recognition: While everyone would agree that a mechanic’s job is important, there are those who view people in manual labor fields in a negative light. A character experiencing this…
- Love and Belonging: If the character is struggling financially, it could put a strain on their relationships.
- Safety and Security: While industry standards require a minimum of safety requirements, a shop owner or employees who…
Common Work-Related Settings: Break room, car accident, garage, gas station, salvage yard, waiting room
Twisting the Stereotype: As with so many other professions, this one is predominantly male. Throw in a female mechanic (think Mona Lisa Vito from My Cousin Vinny), and you’ve got an interesting twist. The field is also a blue-collar one, so what about a mechanic from a white collar family pursuing the career…
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.