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 paleontologist is someone who looks for fossils that may be (dinosaur bones, eggs, egg fragments, fossilized wood, excrement, leaves, footprints, and various other vertebrate and invertebrates). The work is slow and taxing, involving countless hours of sifting through layers of dirt and rock to uncover fossils to determine their age, and whether they originated from land or sea.
Paleontologists travel to interesting locations (living simply while doing so) and may also work onsite with archeologist…
Necessary Training: A person can practice paleontology without a degree, but to gain employment, a degree in geology with courses in paleontology, a master’s degree, or a doctorate in paleontology is likely needed. Not many universities offer …
Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: A knack for languages, a knack for making money, basic first aid, carpentry, exceptional memory, fishing…
POSITIVE: Adaptable, adventurous, ambitious, analytical, cautious, cooperative, curious, diplomatic, disciplined, efficient, focused…
NEGATIVE: fussy, nosy, obsessive, perfectionist, workaholic
Sources of Friction: Losing your funding for a dig, the stress of not producing results (that will ensure continued funding), inclement weather, theft at a dig site, loneliness, working with others if there are personality conflicts, illnesses contracted…
People They Might Interact With: archeologists, students, interns, laborers, drivers, university staff, editors, researchers, locals…
How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:
- Self-Actualization: Paleontologists that dream of making a new discovery or proving a theory might becomes discouraged because they are so focused on the end result and so not draw satisfaction from their career as they believed they would
- Esteem and Recognition: Characters in this field may struggle if others are making interesting discoveries (and being acknowledged for them) while they are not, leading them to question…
- Love and Belonging: This career may create challenges for characters who are always away on digs rather than spending time with their significant other
- Safety and Security: Funding can be a constant area of struggle…
Common Work-Related Settings: ancient ruins, arctic tundra, badlands, campsite, canyon, cave, country road, creek, desert, hiking trail, lake, mountains, old pick-up truck, quarry, teacher’s lounge, university quad, waterfall, workshop
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.