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: Radio, or broadcast, DJs work for community or college radio stations. We mostly associate them with music, but DJs can be hired for any type of radio show, including those that focus on sports, news, politics, pop culture, or another specific area of interest. Either way, the DJ is the one that does the talking between songs or clips. If the station does provide music to its listeners, the DJ may have some say in what’s being played, or those decisions could be made by…
Necessary Training: Some stations require only a high school diploma, but most are looking for DJs with a bachelor’s degree in communications, broadcast journalism, or a similar field. Experience can always…
Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: Charm, good listening skills, making people laugh, mechanically inclined, multitasking, promotion…
Helpful Character Traits:
POSITIVE: Adaptable, charming, confident, cooperative, creative, curious, diplomatic, efficient, enthusiastic, friendly, funny, observant, optimistic…
NEGATIVE: Confrontational, gossipy, manipulative, melodramatic, mischievous, nosy, pushy, workaholic
Sources of Friction: Out-of-touch members of management who want something for the show that the DJ disagrees with, budget cuts, outdated equipment, integration of new technology the DJ is unfamiliar with, saying something on-air that gets one in trouble with the bosses, saying something troublesome when one thought one wasn’t on-air, being required to do things one isn’t comfortable doing (sales, promotion, in-person events, etc.), an interviewee who turns argumentative or combative…
People They Might Interact With: Station managers and executives, other DJs, a producer, guests (being interviewed in person or over the phone)…
How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:
- Self-Actualization: As this industry changes, jobs may become scarcer, making it difficult for radio DJs to get the jobs they want. Someone stuck on a show they’re not passionate about may find…
- Esteem and Recognition: This could become an issue for someone who wants more recognition than they’re likely to get from the job.
- Love and Belonging: A DJ working the night shift (out of necessity or choice) may fall short in the love and belonging department…
- Safety and Security: Any person working a job that makes them well-known, even in small circles, will have fans. If one of those fans is psychotic or imbalanced…
Common Work-Related Settings: Big city street, green room, parking lot, public restroom, recording studio, rock concert, university quad
Twisting the Fictional Stereotype: People are often surprised when they see someone whose voice they’ve heard on air, because their physical appearance doesn’t match the image in their minds. Play on this by considering what unusual characteristics a radio personality might have that wouldn’t be known unless they were seen in person.
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.