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 ghostwriter is someone who writes for hire, taking a flat fee for a writing project but getting none of the credit for the work. They’re hired by someone as a freelance writer to produce copy for a fee. Ghostwriters may work on staff, generating content (speeches, Tweets, letters, blog posts, video scripts, website content, etc.) for a company or employer, or they may work on their own and be hired for a specific job, such as writing a novel. They also may be part of…
Necessary Training: Ghostwriters often have a solid backlog of writing credits to their name, which means anyone seeking employment in this field needs to have a lot of writing experience—and bylines—under their belt. Nonfiction ghostwriters who…
Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: Exceptional memory, good listening skills, writing
POSITIVE: Adaptable, cooperative, courteous, creative, curious, disciplined, discreet, enthusiastic, focused, honest, industrious, meticulous, organized…
NEGATIVE: Withdrawn, workaholic
Sources of Friction: One’s ego taking a hit due to never getting the credit for one’s work, a client who doesn’t clearly communicate his needs or the scope of the project, one’s style not being appreciated by the client, a perfectionistic or controlling client who micro-manages a project, working on projects that aren’t stimulating or fulfilling, falling behind on a deadline, family members who treat one’s job as a hobby…
People They Might Interact With: clients, an employer, members of discussion and job-posting boards, other writers
How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:
- Self-Actualization: Many ghostwriters choose this field as a way of making money while they focus on their own books. But if they have no time or energy for their own writing, they may…
- Esteem and Recognition: For writers whose esteem and self-respect depend on them being recognized by others, ghostwriting may lead to a void in this department.
Common Work-Related Settings: Backyard, library, living room, office cubicle
Twisting the Fictional Stereotype: Writers are often portrayed as reclusive introverts, immured in their own worlds. To spice up your character, give your writer some unusual character traits or hobbies…
(Thanks to Gaby Triana for her input on this entry!)
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.