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: Makeup Artist
Overview: A makeup artist uses cosmetics to enhance or change a person’s physical appearance. This type of artist may work as a clerk at a store, in a salon, as a personal makeup artist for a celebrity, at special events (such as a photo shoot, runway show, or wedding), or on staff for a TV production company…
Necessary Training: Many makeup artists start their training by volunteering in the aforementioned roles and learning from professionals as they go. Certifications aren’t required in all places, but sometimes…
Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: Good listening skills, multitasking, promotion, repurposing
POSITIVE: Adventurous, calm, cooperative, courteous, creative, enthusiastic, gentle, industrious, responsible, studious, talented, whimsical
NEGATIVE: Extravagant, perfectionist, vain, verbose
Sources of Friction: A customer requesting something that’s beyond one’s ability to accomplish, perfectionistic customers who are impossible to please, a customer having an allergic reaction to one’s products, financial limitations that force one to work with inferior cosmetics and tools, insecurities about…
People They Might Interact With: Other makeup artists, customers, managers (in a retail/commercial setting), hair stylists…
How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:
- Self-Actualization: An artist who wishes to do high-end makeup for a professional or very creative work on a movie set but is unable to break into that field may be forced to work in a commercial environment as a fall-back…
- Esteem and Recognition: Comparing ourselves to others will usually lead to disappointment. An artist who feels inferior in their abilities may suffer in the esteem department.
- Love and Belonging: If someone in the character’s life doesn’t appreciate what they do or desires something more lucrative or esteemed for them, the relationship may suffer…
Common Work-Related Settings: Cruise ship, funeral home, green room, hair salon, mansion, performing arts theater, shopping mall, spa, trade show, Vegas stage show
Twisting the Stereotype: People with an interest in makeup and fashion are often viewed as vapid and superficial. Avoid that misperception by fleshing out your character to include a variety of meaningful traits and interests.
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.