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.)
Occupation: Tour Guide
Overview: Similar to an Outdoor Guide, a tour guide is someone who acts as a knowledgeable companion for a group of people wishing to experience local sights in a safe and educational way. Excursions might be a few hours (usually at a landmark location like a museum or a walking tour of an urban center) to several weeks, depending on the type of tour. Guides travel with their group, showing them landmarks, historical sites, and other areas of interest, encouraging tourists to immerse themselves in the culture, activities, cuisine, and adventure of the place they have traveled to.
If the tour is a longer one, the guide is also the go-between when it comes to hotel accommodation, restaurant reservations, travel arrangements, transfers, etc. and will interpret between clients and locals if there is a language barrier…
Necessary Training: Education will depend on the type of guiding the character is doing, but many will have a degree in the area of tourism and travel as well as supplemental training and education that pertains to their area of focus. For example, a guide who focuses on a specific location such as a museum or historical site will have in-depth knowledge of that area, and possibly even an art history degree. If a guide covers a specific town or city, they will have significant knowledge of the history, landmarks, culture, arts, and language of that location, and will be able to…
Tour guides that take longer excursions will have a broader skill set as they will be required to not only be knowledgeable about each area they visit, but to also organizing all management aspects of the trip including accommodation, tickets, transfers, etc. and deal with any problems as they crop up. If the tour includes outdoor camping and overland travel, just as an outdoor guide would, they are in charge of camp management and transport…
Many guides speak a second language or even multiple languages as this helps with the work they do (and becomes a side effect of spending so much time with different cultures as they travel). Most will require a license to operate..
Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: A knack for languages, basic first aid, charm, enhanced hearing, exceptional memory, haggling, hospitality…
Helpful Character Traits: Adaptable, adventurous, calm, charming, confident, courteous, diplomatic, disciplined, discreet, easygoing, efficient…
Sources of Friction: A group member entering an off-limits area at a historical site or causing damage to property, clients who wander away during the tour, having clients who are hard-of-hearing when in busy areas, having to compete to be heard over the throngs of tourists and tour groups in a particular area, accommodation mix-ups (not enough rooms at a hotel, rooms being less-than ideal, etc.), personality conflicts between one’s group members, a breakdown, travel delays, a client being pick pocketed, a client breaking a law because it’s not a big deal where they are from…
People They Might Interact With: travelers, bus and cab drivers, other tour group leaders, custom officials, museum curators and employees…
How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:
- Love and Belonging: A character with this job is away from home often, putting in long (or odd) hours. Their energy levels may be sapped from having to look after the every need of others, longer term travel, or both. This may make it difficult to maintain…
- Safety and Security: Having members on one’s tour group not realizing the danger of certain areas may place the guide into trouble if the client ignores warnings or breaks rules.
Common Work-Related Settings: airplane, airport, ancient ruins, antiques shop, art gallery, badlands, bank, bazaar, beach, big city street, campsite, canyon, casual dining restaurant, cave, cheap motel, city bus, coffeehouse, convenience store, country road, desert, diner, elevator, emergency room, farmer’s market, fast food restaurant, fishing boat, forest, grotto, hiking trail, hospital (interior), hospital room, hotel room, hot springs, lake, laundromat, marina, marsh, mausoleum, meadow, moors, museum, ocean, orchard, outdoor pool, parking lot, public restroom, rainforest, ranch, subway train, train station, tropical island, upscale hotel lobby, waterfall, winery, zoo
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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