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: Referees oversee sporting events to ensure the rules are being followed, good sportsmanship is upheld, and the players are kept safe. Officials are needed at various levels, from professional sports to college to high school and intramurals. Those refereeing intramural sports and community games for kids may be…
Necessary Training: A high-school diploma or equivalent is required to ref in most official capacities. Specific training is also necessary and might be offered through a college or sports organization. Certain registrations…
Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: Enhanced hearing, exceptional memory, multitasking, predicting the weather, swift-footedness
POSITIVE: Alert, calm, cooperative, decisive, disciplined, honest, honorable, just, objective, observant, professional, responsible
NEGATIVE: Confrontational, humorless, perfectionist
Sources of Friction: Being injured on the job, making a mistake that determines the outcome of a game, being threatened or stalked by an angry fan, working the field with an incompetent referee, difficulty remembering certain rules or consequences, not staying up-to-date on new rules and regulations, personal bias that leads to prejudicial decisions, losing one’s cool with a perturbed player, difficult work hours…
People They Might Interact With: players, coaches, other referees, facilities personnel (groundskeepers, maintenance people, stadium managers…)
How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:
- Self-Actualization: This need might take a hit for a referee who is unable to coach their desired sport or at the level they would like.
- Esteem and Recognition: Refs are typically pursuing a passion, which makes the job worthwhile despite the lower compensation. But those for whom financial status is important may struggle…
- Love and Belonging: Refs work evenings and weekends, and many of them travel to do so. This kind of schedule can put a strain on one’s closest relationships…
- Safety and Security: Referees get hit in contact sports all the time, making it a career where injuries are more likely to happen. If an incident makes it impossible for the referee to work…
- Physiological Needs: Sports fans are some of the most passionate people out there. If one of them believes that the official threw a game or was the cause of their team’s loss and comes after him or her…
Common Work-Related Settings: Airplane, airport, community center, dorm room, fitness center, gymnasium, hotel room, sporting event stands
Twisting the Fictional Stereotype:
- This career is definitely male-centric; while women are making their way slowly into the field, they’re very rare. A female ref could provide the twist you’re looking for.
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.