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.)
Overview: A person in this field will be responsible for most any job involving locks: installing and changing locks at residences, helping people get into locked cars and buildings, opening locked devices such as briefcases or …
Necessary Training: A person can become a locksmith by completing an apprenticeship or training at a vocational school. Because this field…
Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: Mechanically inclined
POSITIVE: Calm, centered, courteous, discreet, efficient, honorable, industrious, patient, persistent, professional, responsible
Sources of Friction: A lock one can’t pick, having to work within a short timeline, a client’s home or business being burgled just after one installed the locks, accidentally letting one’s licensing or certification lapse, misplacing the keys to a client’s lock, finding something disturbing in a customer’s safe or home…
People They Might Interact With: Other locksmiths, customers, a dispatcher, one’s boss (a manager or the business owner)…
How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:
- Self-Actualization: Picking locks can pay the bills, but someone who would rather be doing something else—maybe something creative or more mentally stimulating—may find this need impacted.
- Esteem and Recognition: While it’s an honest living, being a locksmith doesn’t pay a lot. Someone who cares about what people think or …
- Safety and Security: Any time a person is required to enter a stranger’s home, there’s a risk to their safety.
- Physiological Needs: Because of this job’s pay scale, locksmiths may find themselves unable to support a family on their salary. Add an expensive accident or illness, and…
Common Work-Related Settings: Antiques shop, backyard, bank, bar, casino, cheap motel, church, convenience store, country road, diner, dorm room, factory, fast food restaurant, fire station, fitness center, garage, gas station, grocery store, hair salon, hardware store, hospital (interior), jewelry store, limousine, liquor store, mansion, mechanic’s shop, motor home, movie theater, nightclub, nursing home, parking garage, parking lot, pawn shop, pub, shopping mall, small town street, taxi, trade show, trailer park, used car dealership
Twisting the Fictional Stereotype: This is another career field dominated largely by men. Make your locksmith a woman and you’ll add a hint of freshness to the scenario. Because of the security aspects of this career, it can also be one that could easily propel your character into conflict. Consider how the client…
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.