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.)
Occupation: Driver (Car)
Overview: It goes without saying, but drivers get people from one place to another. Typically, they’re employed by a service and are assigned jobs either by a dispatcher or via an app. Some drive…
Necessary Training: Drivers must have a current license, and many services require a certain amount of driving experience before a driver can be hired.
Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: A knack for languages, enhanced hearing, exceptional memory, good listening skills, hot-wiring a car, reading people, self-defense
POSITIVE: Adaptable, alert, calm, courteous, discreet, extroverted, focused, friendly, observant, proactive, sensible, tolerant
Sources of Friction: Getting traffic tickets that could threaten one’s employment as a driver, getting into an accident, picking up a dangerous customer, inebriated passengers, getting stiffed on a fare, having to drive someone one finds morally reprehensible, driving a passenger who wants to talk about touchy subjects (such as politics or religion), being accused of inappropriateness by a passenger, getting lost, getting caught overcharging a customer….
People They Might Interact With: customers, a dispatcher, other drivers employed by the same service, a manager, police officers, mechanics…
How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:
- Self-Actualization: This need may become impacted if the driver has higher aspirations, eventually growing dissatisfied with their current occupation.
- Esteem and Recognition: If a driver is looked down upon or treated as inferior by his passengers, he may begin to feel badly…
- Safety and Security: A driver may be highly skilled, but there are always idiots on the road who could endanger…
- Physiological Needs: There’s always a risk involved when picking up strangers, and drivers have been known to….
Common Work-Related Settings: Airport, art gallery, bar, big city street, black-tie event, car accident, casino, limousine, mansion, mechanic’s shop…
Twisting the Fictional Stereotype:
- By and large, drivers are male. Consider a kick-butt female who drives like Mario Andretti and can handle herself.
- Being a professional driver gives…
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.