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: Ethical Hacker
Overview: Ethical hackers are professionals who are employed to deliberately break into a customer’s network or system to determine security vulnerabilities and offer solutions. Also called a “white hat hacker,” these individuals …
Necessary Training: Training requirements vary from job to job. Because of the security risks, many employers require that their hackers have a bachelor’s degree in computer science or another related field. They also may want anyone they hire to be..
Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: Gaining the trust of others, multitasking
POSITIVE: Adventurous, analytical, centered, curious, discreet, independent, intelligent, meticulous, observant, persistent, proactive…
NEGATIVE: Addictive, confrontational, devious, manipulative, mischievous, paranoid, perfectionist, rebellious, suspicious, unethical
Sources of Friction: Missing a vulnerability within a client’s system that is then exploited, being blamed for a breach in a recent client’s system, one’s own system being hacked and one’s credibility being threatened, getting caught using unethical procedures on a job, unknowingly letting one’s certification lapse, nefarious individuals from one’s past making it difficult for one to “stay clean and fly straight,” word getting out about one’s illegitimate hacking activities from the past, being blackmailed…
People They Might Interact With: clients, online certification instructors and admin, people working for or with the client (employees, contractors, past employees, etc.)
How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:
- Esteem and Recognition: It’s possible for ethical hackers to receive criticism from many quarters. Black hat hackers could see them as sell-outs and cowards while legitimate professionals may have a hard time trusting them. If unethical hacking is a part of their past…
- Love and Belonging: Hacking is an often solitary occupation, meaning many in this field may struggle building relationships.
- Safety and Security: A hacker’s safety and security may be threatened if they discover vulnerabilities in a system that the creator doesn’t want removed. This need could also be impacted if…
Common Work-Related Settings: Basement, boardroom, man cave
Twisting the Fictional Stereotype: When people think of the typical hacker (even an ethical one), they picture a twenty-something male working out of his basement. Give readers a pleasant surprise by considering alternative genders, ages, and..
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.