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: Landscape Designer
Overview: Landscape designers turn outdoors spaces into functional and attractive places for their customers. They meet with clients to ascertain their wants and needs, draw up plans, select plants…
Necessary Training: A self-employed landscape designer needs no official training, though it would likely help in gaining new clients. Most design firms will require a certain level of training for their designers, whether that be…
Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: Gardening, good listening skills, repurposing
POSITIVE: Analytical, cooperative, courteous, creative, curious, focused, imaginative, industrious, meticulous, nature-focused, observant, patient…
Sources of Friction: A fussy client who is never satisfied, misunderstanding a client’s desires, introducing diseased shrubs that die quickly, permitting issues with the local authorities, nit-picky inspectors, unreliable or dishonest employees, weather difficulties (extreme hot or cold, a storm interrupting a project), a blight or infestation of a certain plant that drives up prices, unforeseen issues with…
People They Might Interact With: landscape employees, the company’s owner, office personnel, clients, wholesalers and retailers…
How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:
- Self-Actualization: Someone who entered this field so they could continue a parent’s business or carry on someone else’s legacy may find their self-actualization impacted if…
- Esteem and Recognition: Someone seeking esteem may be unfulfilled if, despite doing a good job, they’re unable to…
Common Work-Related Settings: Backyard, flower garden, flower shop, greenhouse, hardware store, old pick-up truck, pond, tool shed, tree house, vegetable patch
Twisting the Fictional Stereotype: Landscape designers are typically portrayed as men between the ages of 20 and 40. What about a female designer, or an elderly person who has retired from years of landscape work to pursue his dream of designing? Could your landscape designer be part of a family business, with mom as the office manager and an older brother overseeing the day-to-day landscape work? Be sure not to neglect the small details because…
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.