Most people work to earn a living.
So, unless you write about fabulously wealthy people all the time, I’m going to assume that your characters are working-class folk.
And even if you write fantasy, your character is going to have to make a living somehow–whether it be by herding sheep or in the castle guard–so I think you might find this useful.
For most people, work defines who they are. When you meet someone at a party, you’re inevitably asked, “What do you do?” We’re slotted into pigeonholes at first meet: he’s a computer programer, she’s a lawyer, he owns a plumbing and heating company…
This works for fabulously wealthy people who spend their time on good causes, too: She does books for a soup kitchen, he’s a doctor at a free clinic, she reads to the blind.
And like it or not, what we do for a living–or to fill the time–shapes us. We spend a huge amount of our time in pursuit of it: exposed to the politics, embroiled in projects, learning our pecking order, gaining experience both good and bad.
So knowing what your character does for a living is important–even if it’s never mentioned in the book. Because what he learned on the job is a takeaway to his life. Keep this in mind when creating new characters.
Here’s Your Prompt:
- Write a scene or a story about an important event in a person’s life…but come at it from the perspective of work: you can only reveal things as they are happening on the job.
- Write a story about a person who keeps making the right decisions at work, but keeps landing in deeper and deeper trouble for them.
- Write the scene (or an entire story) about a bitter person who’s got the dream of a lifetime–her dream of a lifetime–and how it ruined her.
- Go large on the work idea: write a story that takes place at a business. The characters can only be seen as how they act on the job – no scenes away from the workplace.
- Write a story where your main character is having trouble keeping his job. This difficulty can be central to the story or not.
- If you Journal…
- Write about the loss of your job.
- Write about all the summer jobs you’ve had, or about your favorite summer job.
- Write about your Worst. Job. Ever. (Or worst boss!)
- Have you ever been profoundly effected by someone else’s job — or job loss? Write it.