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If you have written a novel- how did you choose characters' occupations?

(9 Posts)
ameliagrey Sat 03-Sep-11 11:36:09

Did you stick with jobs you knew about, or thought of others and researched?

TrillianAstra Sat 03-Sep-11 12:06:30

I'm assuming that the jobs they do have no bearing on the story, it's just something to give background, because obviously people need to earn money to live.

(not a writer, just interested).

In that case what they do all day doesn't matter. You'd have to consider what kind of life you want them to have outside the job. How much money do they earn? Do they commute? Is it 9-5 or longer or shifts or flexible? Would they get phone calls at the evening or weekend? Would they have to check emails late a night? Do they need to dress smartly (and so will the female character be running away from the murderer in heels or in trainers)?

ameliagrey Sat 03-Sep-11 14:11:29

Their jobs don't have a direct bearing on the story but as 2 of the women are childless and "career women" , work will be part of the dialogue- so i can't put words into their mouths about being say, an astronaut, if I don't know what astronauts do!

The jobs also have to fit their characters- one is a bit bookish/intellectual, the other is a bit of a go-getter type woman, and not such a deep thinker.

ImperialBlether Sat 03-Sep-11 14:17:51

It's interesting you said this. I was listening to Book Club on Radio 4 recently - Donna Leon was on. I haven't read any of her books, but she was describing how she got the character of the policeman. She knew he'd have to be a certain level within the police, in order to be in charge of the investigation. This meant he had to be university educated. Since many people (older people, particularly) tended to meet their partners at university, she then was able to develop the character of his wife. From his degree, she could learn what he was interested in. From the fact he went to university, she could guess at his upbringing. And so it went on. It was really fascinating to see how she worked it all out.

Here's the link if you're interested.

ImperialBlether Sat 03-Sep-11 14:21:02

I've been working out the career of one of my characters recently. I wanted her to have met her husband young and supported him in his studies, but for her not to have gone to university herself. I wanted her to regret this and to want it for her child. I also wanted her to be attracted to educated men.

I wanted her to be in a job that I knew something about (or could guess) but which wasn't a job I do myself (teacher.) I wanted her to have female colleagues and for her to have the chance to talk to them at work about what was going on in her life.

I also wanted her to work in an area where humour could be used.

Can you guess which job she had?

ameliagrey Sat 03-Sep-11 20:34:02

No idea! Could be anything- the only clues are that she has not been in HE, and can talk to (only??) women at work.

Prostitute? Call centre? retail worker? Bra fitter?

Go on- tell me!

ameliagrey Sat 03-Sep-11 20:34:25

Thanks for the link- will listen etc.

Zoidberg Wed 07-Sep-11 11:25:29

I am v annoyed that my main character is an archaeologist as I know not much about this, And he works in the Middle East, which I know nothing about, entailing a frightening amount of research. He just turned up that way grin - so I think you're lucky in being able to choose.

Career woman who hasn't been in HE with predominantly female colleagues, hmm - Trainer in a women-only gym? Primary school teacher? School secretary? Midwife? Counsellor in a women's refuge? Careers advisor in a girls school? Artist/illustrator who works alongside other women at her studio? Local council executive / administrator? Owns her own boutique? Fashion designer?

Zoidberg Wed 07-Sep-11 11:26:37

Sorry, I realise some of those probably do require HE after all.

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