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: There are many kinds of pilots, but only a few can be paid for their services—meaning your character would need to be an airline pilot, a commercial pilot, or a pilot in the military. As the name suggests, airline pilots fly commercial airliners. Commercial pilots may work for a private company or own their own business transporting passengers and cargo, running rescue missions, or doing aerial photography. Military pilot…
Airline pilots don’t tend to have the typical 9-to-5 work schedule; instead they work a series of days followed by a number of days off. A commercial pilot’s workweek…
Necessary Training: Pilots will need a certification that consists of a combination of ground school (any training done on the ground) and flight training. Training can take place at a flight school, through a collegiate program, or …
Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: Exceptional memory, mechanically inclined, multitasking, predicting the weather
POSITIVE: Adaptable, adventurous, alert, confident, cooperative, decisive, disciplined, focused,meticulous, responsible, studious
Sources of Friction: working with a difficult or lazy co-pilot, flying a plane with mechanical difficulties, flying in difficult weather, having to conduct an emergency landing, romantic entanglements with members of the flight crew, failing a drug test, a terrorist or hijacking situation, missing an important event (a child’s birthday party, a vital marital counseling session) due to a delayed flight, having to take less-desired flights…
People They Might Interact With: co-pilots, air traffic controllers, flight attendants, airport personnel, union officials, passengers, hotel personnel
How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:
- Self-Actualization: A pilot who is unable to obtain his desired certification may be stuck doing jobs that are unsatisfying. This could also happen if the pilot’s personal circumstances required him to…
- Love and Belonging: This need could be impacted if the pilot’s work hours and time away from home become a problem.
- Safety and Security: Despite the best training and experience, flying is still a dangerous endeavor. If a pilot encounters a life-threatening situation, it may haunt them…
Common Work-Related Settings: Airplane, airport, hotel room, military base, military helicopter
Twisting the Fictional Stereotype:
- Gender-wise, pilots are largely male, so making yours female can provide a seldom-seen twist.
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.