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 list of ideas 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 barista is someone who makes coffee and espresso drinks (though some countries, the skill may also encompass knowledge of other beverages). In many commercial and chain shops, the job entails being able to work the necessary machinery and care for customers. A barista in a specialty or independent shop may be more knowledgeable about the different types of coffee, including where the beans come from, how the plants are cultivated, and the tastes and strengths of..
Necessary Training: No formal education is required; most training will be received on the job.
Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: Charm, enhanced sense of smell, enhanced taste buds, good listening skills, hospitality, multitasking, promotion
POSITIVE: Adaptable, calm, charming, cooperative, courteous, efficient, enthusiastic, honest, honorable, hospitable, kind, observant…
Sources of Friction: Malfunctioning equipment, running out of supplies, employees calling in sick or not showing up with no warning, dishonest or lazy employees, micro-managing or absentee bosses, failing a health inspection, serving a customer with food allergies a drink containing an allergen, a customer slipping and falling, co-workers who don’t get along, having to work…
People They Might Interact With: other baristas and employees, a manager, a store owner, delivery people, customers, health inspectors
How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:
- Self-Actualization: Someone with a passion for coffee may find their enthusiasm squashed if the management is only interested in doing the same old thing…
- Esteem and Recognition: It’s likely that most people would view this opportunity as a short-term job. If someone is happy doing it and wants to make a career out of it, they may find…
- Safety and Security: While most retail jobs are fairly safe, a barista’s security may be at stake in the event of…
Common Work-Related Settings: Airport, bakery, big city street, bookstore, coffeehouse, cruise ship, grocery store, hospital (interior), shopping mall, ski resort, small town street
Twisting the Fictional Stereotype: This job is often a temporary one, but what might drive a character to pursue it as a long-term career?
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.
melanie redler says
I can’t remember–have you done a baker yet? Love this barista which gave me a great job for my teen character! Thanks!
BECCA PUGLISI says
We haven’t done Baker yet, but it’s on our list of possibilities :). I’m so glad this one worked for you.
This thesaurus is a must! It will be so helpful for me!
YESSSS!!!!! This was one of my suggestions I’d hoped to see someday!!! This whole collection is great. Thank you so much!
BECCA PUGLISI says
I’m so glad! We’ve gotten so many suggestions, we’ll never be able to add them all. We’re trying to include a variety of occupations across different industries, skill levels, ages, etc. I thought this one was a good fit. Thanks for sending in your suggestions!
Oh, the wonderful drinks they make 🙂 My son’s become an “at home” barista with his new Nespresso machine which he LOVES!
BECCA PUGLISI says