3 Ways to Select a Character’s Job

Rather you are writing for young readers or adult readers, eventually you are going to have to give a character a job.  It might be a teen’s first job or the job of a character’s parent.  If you are writing a novel for adult readers, it might be your protagonist’s job.  I’ve been thinking about this a lot since reading a post by Angela Ackerman.  In noodling this over, I’ve come up with three ways to select your character’s job.

The Average Job

Your character needs money.  Your character has not inherited money.  Thus your character needs a job.  Sometimes it is okay to go with the obvious.  Your tween character babysits or mows lawns.  Your teen character works in food service or at the local grocery.  In Stranger Things, one of the characters works in the mall.  If Stranger Things can do it, you can do it.  But you may want your character’s job to reveal something.  That’s when you dig a little deeper.

Character Interests

A character who is on swim team might be a life guard.  Statistically, in my experience as a swim mom, this is actually pretty likely.  A character who loves to cook might bake cakes for birthday parties.  One of my son’s friends and his two cousins catered parties while they were still in high school.  Develop your character, find out who they are, and then come up with a job that is a good match.

Emotional Scars

Angela’s post was all about how a character’s emotional scars might impact the job they choose.  A character who lost their grandmother might want to work at a senior day care.  A character with negligent parents might choose a job that requires them to be incredibly reliable or a job with a lot of rules.

There are many ways to chose character jobs.  My only word of warning?  Writers seem to create a lot of characters who are writers.  Not that you can’t, but give it a little thought before you pick this one.


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