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: Mechanical Engineer
Overview: Mechanical Engineering involves the study of motion, force, and energy. Engineers call upon their knowledge in this area by researching, designing, building, and maintaining mechanical tools, engines, machines, and large-scale plants and facilities. The products and systems created and developed by mechanical engineers..
Necessary Training: To work in this field, one must acquire a four-year mechanical engineering degree. Coursework leans heavily on advanced mathematics…
Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: Mechanically inclined, repurposing
POSITIVE: Analytical, cooperative, creative, curious, decisive, efficient, enthusiastic, focused, industrious, intelligent, meticulous, observant…
Sources of Friction: Working on a team with uncooperative or unmotivated members, racial or gender prejudice, being unable to find the solution for a particular project, being led by someone lacking sufficient knowledge or experience, dealing with paperwork and red tape that keep one from doing one’s job, working within unrealistic deadlines, losing funding in the middle of a project, unknowingly working with inferior parts…
People They Might Interact With: Clients, a boss, office personnel, team members and co-workers, project managers, construction foremen…
How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:
- Self-Actualization: Because this career field is so vast, people may enter it with different goals. If a character was passionate about working in a certain area but gets stuck working on certain products or in one space, they may become dissatisfied, feeling they’re…
- Esteem and Recognition: Someone who is always being out-performed by co-workers or is bypassed repeatedly for promotions may begin to…
- Safety and Security: A mechanical engineer involved in the manufacture and testing of machinery may find herself in danger if something goes wrong.
Common Work-Related Settings: Big city street, boardroom, break room, construction site, elevator, factory, office cubicle, parking lot, parking garage
Twisting the Fictional Stereotype:
- Engineers have typically been drawn as nerdy, bookish types. What about a sexy, adventurous, engineer?
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.