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: Coroners are elected or appointed officials responsible for investigating deaths to determine what caused them. In addition to performing autopsies, a coroner’s duties include collecting evidence at a crime scene, conducting investigations, speaking to…
Necessary Training: While many coroners hold a college degree (usually in a medical or science field), it is not a requirement in most jurisdictions. Most will be required to pass a test proving basic necessary knowledge, and it helps if their resumé includes medical or investigative work. Their education, experience, and other factors will determine….
Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: Empathy, exceptional memory, gaining the trust of others, good listening skills, reading people, strategic thinking…
POSITIVE: Adventurous, analytical, calm, cautious, confident, cooperative, courteous, curious, decisive, diplomatic, discreet, efficient, focused, honest…
NEGATIVE: Morbid, nosy, obsessive, pushy, suspicious
Sources of Friction: Tension with family members due to one’s 24/7 on-call job, evidence that has been tainted due to inept collection techniques, pressure from influential people to lean a certain way in one’s decisions for a case, suspecting foul play but being unable to prove it, arriving at a crime scene and recognizing the corpse, being unable to determine a definitive cause of death, working in a small jurisdiction and being faced with….
People They Might Interact With: police offers and detectives, other coroners or medical examiners, a deputy coroner, lawyers and judges…
How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:
- Self-Actualization: A person in this position who, due to lack of education or opportunity, is unable to perform all the duties associated with the job may begin to feel that they’re unable to live up to their full potential or….
- Esteem and Recognition: A coroner with fewer credentials and job responsibilities may begin to feel inferior….
- Love and Belonging: Many people might look down upon someone who works with dead bodies, believing the job to be morally reprehensible or…
- Safety and Security: While precautions should always be in place, contagion could become an issue in certain cases…
Common Work-Related Settings: Alley, ambulance, backyard, car accident, cheap motel, construction site, courtroom, empty lot, hiking trail, hotel room, juvenile detention center, living room, parking garage, police station, prison cell, run-down apartment, truck stop
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.