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: Small Business Owner
Overview: A character who is a small business owner may choose a number of structures (Sole Proprietorship, C Corp or S Corp, Limited Liability Company, etc.) and concentrate in any number of areas. Businesses are product or service-focused, and may target individual consumers (a convenience store, a bakery, a mechanic’s shop, a pottery studio, a fast food franchise, etc.) or corporations (a safety training company servicing oil companies, an art supplier, a canning company, etc.), or both.
Small business owners wear many hats and need to excel at managing all aspects of the business, or be able to afford qualified help (outsourcing to other companies or hiring employees). Aside from ensuring the highest standards of the product or service the company specializes in..
Necessary Training: Training will vary depending on the type of business, the expertise needed, and the appropriate certifications one may need to operate. Generally speaking, having a background in business management, marketing, and/or accounting will greatly help a small business owner better understand how to run a business successfully, and navigate the many challenges…
Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: A knack for languages, a knack for making money, charm, empathy, ESP (clairvoyance), exceptional memory, gaining the trust of others, haggling, hospitality, making people laugh…
POSITIVE: Adaptable, ambitious, analytical, bold, calm, confident, cooperative, courteous, creative, decisive, diplomatic, disciplined, efficient….
NEGATIVE: controlling, obsessive, perfectionist, stubborn, workaholic
Sources of Friction: changes in the market (or new regulations, higher transport costs, escalating taxes, or other factors that make it more expensive to do business), high maintenance employees, money going missing from the till, money being skimmed (by the accountant, a business partner, a spouse who has access etc.), robberies, an expensive insurance claim (after a fire, vandalism, theft, sewers backing up, an electrical issue, etc.), being “shaken down” by local thugs demanding protection payments, new competition entering the marketplace…
People They Might Interact With: customers, accountants, delivery drivers, reporters, other business owners, inspectors, product reps…
How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:
- Self-Actualization: Being a small business owner may not be one’s first choice, especially in the case of a family-run business. A character working out of duty may feel they are giving up a dream…
- Esteem and Recognition: A character who fails to see the level of growth they always dreamed of when they first started the business may start to feel that they don’t have what it takes…
- Love and Belonging: Long hours and situations where often the business comes first can easily create rocky relationships…
- Safety and Security: Having a business in a high crime area of a city can increase the chance of robberies and break-ins…
Common Work-Related Settings: airplane, airport, alley, bank, basement, big city street, boardroom, break room, coffeehouse, custodial supply room, elevator, office cubicle, parking garage, parking lot, small town street, taxi, trade show
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.