IT’S ALL ABOUT CHARACTER—Beyond the Basics© Lesson 6
By Carol Henry
LESSON 6: Character’s Career.
In this lesson we’re going to delve into your character’s current employment/career. It might not seem like a very detailed segment, but your adult characters spend most of their time at work, and this can reflect on who they are, how they interact with others on a daily basis, and where you can get a lot of External Conflict. So, there are a few things that we’ll need to know about them, and how they interact with others.
• What is his/her work history?
• What does your character do for a living? Work up a job description/resume.
• Where does your character work—in an office or at home? In a city, town, country, etc.; location; name of company?
• How does your character get to work each day? Subway, walk, drive, train, plane, etc.?
• Does your character travel cross country or around the globe for work? Where?
• Who are his/her co-workers?
• Is he/she a CEO? Is he/she an elected official? Work for the government, a university, a restaurant—waitress/owner? A vet, a zookeeper, maid, etc.
• Who does he/she report to? Who reports to him/her?
• Who are his/her strongest allies?
• Who are his/her rivals?
• Does your character like his/her job? What would they rather be doing?
• How did they get this job?
• What kind of work ethics does your character have—reliable, doesn’t follow through, expects others to follow, is a leader, a role model, etc.?
• Perhaps your character doesn’t work/have a career, but is involved in community events, some of the same questions above might apply.
Tip of the Day: For those of you who have worked outside the home, you know you can be two separate people—the one who deals with people in the workplace all day, every day, and the one who can relax when the day is done and they are home in their own private world. And maybe a third personality—the one who is also a parent trying to hold down a job, a home, and a child.
If you’ve given your character a career that you aren’t familiar with, don’t worry, you can find out all you need to know about any job on the internet. As we all know, there is a ton of readily available information out there. Or, you can interview someone who holds that position.
HOMEWORK—LESSON 6: In working with your character’s career/job/community involvement questions listed above, delve into your characters’ everyday life. See if you can find issues that they have to deal with—conflicts (internal or external) that they face on a daily basis, and how they overcome them. Their jobs/careers can be simple or complex, only you (and your characters) can decide how involved in the workplace they need to be for your story. And as I’ve stated earlier, we can glean ideas for both Internal and External Conflicts, and what motivates your characters to respond the way they need to in your story. Don’t worry if their career/jobs aren’t a big part of your story, but be aware that if they are working and come home, or have to attend a function where they interact with others after hours, they most likely will be tired and over-emotional one way or the other over something that happened at the office, and therefore might not be very good company. Or, depending on your character, they would be ready to let loose and raise a little hell and head to the local bar. It all depends on your character. What kind of character is yours?
Note: Lesson 7: Our final lesson will focus on your character’s story goal, and a general wrap-up of class. Questions? Ask away
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