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: Massage Therapist
Overview: A massage therapist will evaluate a client for injuries and then manipulate muscle and soft tissue to bring them relief from pain, help heal injuries, improve circulation, alleviate stress and offer relaxation and overall wellness. They may specialize in a variety of modalities (Swedish, Hot Stone, Aromatherapy, Deep Tissue, Shiatsu, Reflexology, Sports massage, Pregnancy massage, etc.) and work in different environments such as spas, doctor’s offices…
Massage therapists need healthy stamina, strength, and dexterity as while some sessions may be short, most are often 60-90 minutes of applying pressure and resistance techniques using the hands, fingers, knuckles, forearms, arms, and elbows. They must also be good at..
Necessary Training: Most therapists enter a post secondary program that is part classroom study, part hands on massage. Programs often require 500 hours of practice and have an exam. Additional time will be…
Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: A knack for languages, basic first aid, charm, empathy, enhanced hearing, ESP (clairvoyance), exceptional memory…
POSITIVE: Adaptable, analytical, cautious, curious, disciplined, discreet, empathetic, focused, friendly, industrious, meticulous, observant…
NEGATIVE: controlling, gossipy, perfectionist, workaholic
Sources of Friction: A client being evasive about symptoms out of embarrassment, a client not disclosing a condition (like pregnancy) or injury, having someone on the table who is highly medicated and less able to offer feedback during a session regarding pain levels, clients who don’t like to be touched, clients who “read into” the massage in a sexual way, being told secrets or gossip about others one know…
People They Might Interact With: clients, doctors, chiropractors, administration, suppliers
How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:
- Esteem and Recognition: A character who has traditionally struggled with feeling valued by others may seek out this career to directly influence the health and wellness of others…
- Love and Belonging: A character who is in a long term relationship with someone who suffers from injuries or a condition that requires a lot of massage therapy (say, after a car accident or workplace incident) may choose this career …
Common Work-Related Settings: airport, beach, cruise ship, fitness center, hotel room, penthouse suite, rec center, spa, therapist’s office, yacht
Twisting the Fictional Stereotype:
Massage therapists are often portrayed as hot young guys or beautiful, small framed women, but the reality is that the muscle manipulation requires a lot of core strength. Make sure your character’s body type fits the profession and remember the “hotness” level has nothing to do with this 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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Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, a portal to powerful, innovative tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.