Thursday, January 19, 2012

J is for Jobs

It's important for your hero and heroine to have a job. Giving them this realistic, everyday attribute can make them seem more human to our readers. A charcter's choice of occupation can also give us a deeper insight into him or her. In real life, many people choose careers based on their personality. This can work for fictional characters as well. Most of my characters' jobs are average, ordinary jobs. (Although I do have one Secret Service agent.) This adds a touch of the familiar and makes them seem like real people.

In my books, I tend to use my characters' jobs as part of the plot, which often leads to or forms part of the conflict.

In This Time for Always, Sharlie works as the manager of a bar. Logan comes back to town to buy that bar. This sets up the external conflict for the former high school sweethearts.

In Wild Wedding Weekend, Noah's carefree job as a freelance photographer proves to Abby how wrong he is for her. She wants someone to settle down with, not someone who travels around the world and is never home.

In This Can't Be Love Zach's disinterest in getting a 'real' job causes friction between the hero and heroine. He's a Jessica's view - based mostly on past experience...this tells her he has no ambition in life.

In A Christmas to Remember, it's Sam's secrecy about his job that first intrigues Heather and adds to the mystery surrounding him. But it's also the thing that could keep them apart and prevent them from living happily ever after.

In my WIP "An Unexpected Blessing", Joe's returned home to his small hometown after a stint in jail and has taken a job with Katy's parents as their handyman. Katy also happens to be back in town because she lost her job and couldn't afford to live on her own. This puts my hero and heroine in close proximity.

In another WIP "This Feels Like Home", Jake is a bull rider, and the danger it poses makes Amber want to keep her distance, even as her feelings for him begin to grow.

What kind of jobs do you give your characters? Are they integral to the plot of your story, or just there for background information?

Until next time,

Happy Reading!



  1. I like how your characters' jobs provide the conflict (or some of the conflict) in your stories. In A Heart of Little Faith, the jobs of her hero and heroine are not central to my story, but in Skin Deep, they are. I've tended to see jobs as an indicator of character. Interesting!

  2. My characters' jobs are central to their stories. Their jobs reflect their external goals, and the story conflict is constructed around job settings. Sort of like my life....

  3. Jobs do seem to play a large part in our stories, don't they? My heroes' and heroines' jobs also seem to be a focal part of the story, either throwing them together or providing some conflict between them. In my latest novel (just submitted i.e. today!), the hero is a volcanologist which provides the climax of the story - but half way through, when I was in the midst of masses of research about volcanoes, I did start to wish I'd given him an expertise that I already knew something about. Still, at least it means I've learnt a lot more about volcanoes than I ever knew before!

  4. definintely can indicate character.

    Ana...sometimes fiction does imitate life, doesn't it? (Or is it the other way around?! :))

    Paula...I usually try to give my characters jobs I'm familiar with so I can avoid tons of research. (Lazy, lazy me.) I did research for my Secret Service agent, though, and that was a lot of fun!

  5. It IS fun to find out about things you're not familiar with, isn't it? I became quite fascinated with volcanoes - can even tell you now what a correlation spectrometer measures!
    I used to write novels centred around teachers (because that was the only thing I knew) but today's teaching world is so different from when I was teaching (i.e. nearly 20 years ago - eek!) so I've now got to grill my teacher daughter about modern practices if I want a teacher heroine and a school setting.

  6. I have one heroine (another WIP) who's a teacher, but for the most part I've avoided 'overlapping' my worlds.