We’ve all got Jobs on the brain–whether you’re still mourning the loss of the iconic tech industry leader, worried about the loss of your own, hating your present one, hoping for a new one, or wondering how your current one drifted so far away from what you studied for, we’re all thinking about working. And some of us do more thinkin’ than workin’ on some days. 😀
Your Job, Your Life
But is your job your life? If you’re saying, “of course not,” you might want to re-think that. How many hours a week do you spend “at work” – and I don’t just mean at the office. I mean how much work do you bring home with you in the form of thinking, worrying, or stressing about the Daily Grind?
Who would you be if you weren’t doing the job you’re doing now, or in the career you are in now?
Ask your characters the same question. The characters of your favorite books? In fiction, most of the exciting stuff doesn’t happen “at work” or if it does, as in the case of the detective or medical thriller, we never have to read all about all the day-to-day boring paperwork scenes. Thrill! As Detective Joe Friday fills out an 84-page incident report about the broken seatbelt in the squad car! Wow! As Officer Krupke makes yet another nuisance barking dog call to the sleepy neighborhood down the hill from main street! Shock! As Starsky and Hutch bust another small-time drug dealer hustling on a street corner!
Nevertheless, fictional cops often are their jobs (many of them in real-life, too). How many of our characters have jobs versus careers? Have you wondered how much of their personality is caught up in their job, or are they just doing that work because it sounds cool?
Your Career, Your Future
I know this sounds like a high school guidance counselor pamphlet, but your characters can become deeper if you take the time to think about not only what they do for a living, but why they do it. In my current WIP, one of my mains has a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts and a Master’s in Architecture because he’s fascinated with creating space and dimension. It’s an integral part of who he is, and who he is in the story…however, he’s only ever worked for a few (miserable) years as an actual architect. My other main in that WIP has her teaching certificate, had a very successful career in HR in the tech industry, and is now creating educational programs for a non-profit zoo. Neither of these characters is where they expected to be (and that’s one of the themes of this story), and both are trying to cope with that reality as part of the story and part of their growth as characters.