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: Bounty Hunter
Overview: Bounty Hunters apprehend fugitives who are running from the law. While a suspect awaits a court date, they’re often released on bail. If they can’t pay the money themselves, they get it from a bail bondsman. If the suspect doesn’t appear for his court date, he becomes a fugitive. The bail bondsman may hire a bounty hunter to…
In some ways, bounty hunters have more freedom than official police officers because they can enter the fugitive’s home without a warrant and cross state lines to apprehend the fugitive. Their work might include such activities as interviewing family and friends, canvassing the fugitive’s neighborhood, staking out certain locations…
Necessary Training: In the U.S., you must be 21 years old and hold a high school diploma or GED to pursue this career. While many bounty hunters have a background in the military and law enforcement, no official training is necessary. Because they must be licensed in most states, they’ll have to…
Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: Basic first aid, blending in, charm, ESP (clairvoyance), exceptional memory, gaining the trust of others, good listening skills, haggling…
POSITIVE: Adventurous, alert, bold, cautious, decisive, discreet, focused, industrious, just, observant, patient, persistent…
NEGATIVE: Callous, confrontational, humorless, manipulative, nosy, obsessive, pushy, rebellious, rowdy, suspicious, vindictive
Sources of Friction: Trying to get information from uncooperative sources, being confined by the law, being tempted to circumvent the law to catch a fugitive, not being able to find the fugitive, receiving incorrect information from a source, a job requiring going over budget or schedule, an important contact going out of business (one’s primary investigator or bail bondsman, for instance), conflicts of interest (the fugitive being a person one knows, having a family member who was victimized by the fugitive, etc.)…
People They Might Interact With: bondsmen, law enforcement officers, people associated with the fugitive (family members, friends, neighbors, former bosses, etc.)…
How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:
- Self-Actualization: A bounty hunter who chose the profession because he was unable to pursue the career he really wanted (such as one in the military or law enforcement) might soon become restless and feel unfulfilled.
- Safety and Security: The danger associated with this job, the fugitives involved, and the neighborhoods they frequent could…
- Physiological Needs: Most careers wouldn’t impact a character on this level, but a bounty hunter could easily lose their life…
Common Work-Related Settings: Airport, alley, backyard, bar, basement, big city street, casual dining restaurant, cheap motel, coffeehouse, convenience store, courtroom, diner, emergency room, fast food restaurant, garage, gas station, hospital (interior), hospital room, hotel room, indoor shooting range, living room, nightclub, park, parking garage, parking lot, police station, pub, public restroom, small town street, subway train, waiting room
Twisting the Fictional Stereotype:
Bounty hunters are often portrayed as rough and grubby, which helps them blend into the environments where their subjects are hiding. To switch things up, consider a bounty hunter who takes on only high-profile cases and…
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.
lol…every time I think “bounty hunter” I think “Midnight Run” 😀
BECCA PUGLISI says
This is one of my husband’s favorites. 🙂 I admit that I always think of Boba Fett, which didn’t help me with this entry AT ALL
I once watched a video where kids talked and asked questions to a Female Bounty Hunter. She said to the kids that the legal/technical term is “Recovery Agent”. You should add, having the character as a woman, as twisting the stereotype