Choosing a Profession

I’m preparing for NaNo by coming up with some character development prior to starting.  (I’m also already thinking that I’m probably a crazy person for taking this on, but only time will tell.)  The main decision I need to make now, besides finding names for side characters, is the profession for one of my two main characters.

The basic concept for this character is that she starts out the story as what she sees as a success: she’s got a good job (albeit not what she studied in school) and a good-looking, nice-guy fiancée.  She’s in that “comfortable” place, where life is routine and she’s not happy or sad.  Through the story she’s going to have all of these things challenged, due to an outside force, and she’ll find things that make her truly happy.

That said, I had to decide three things today: what she studied in school, what she does now, and what she’s going to do later.  I chose things that I am vaguely familiar with, to cut down on the research time mid-Nano.  So, she studied English in college, is an Admin Assistant in an office, and eventually becomes an author.  These are all things that I can either fake or ask somebody I know, at least for now.  Details can be tweaked and fixed in the editing process, once the word-vomiting of NaNo is complete.

Tomorrow is Day 1 – are you ready?

Lots of Interests, One Focus

Reading and writing have always been interesting to me.  I created stories as a child, read voraciously, and started writing poems and fiction in junior high.  Completing novels and attempting to get published are relatively new interests for me, though.  As a kid I enjoyed many things but had only one focus: animals.

An interest in animals grew into an interest in biology, so my science nerd personality totally fits.  Now that I’ve become successful thanks to my dedication (or is obsession a better word) to my animal focus, I’ve realized that there are many other things I enjoy that I could have pursued.  If I hadn’t been obsessed with animals, of course.

Beyond writing, with which I have a long-developed relationship, I’ve found a few other interests.  If it had been encouraged of me as a kid, I might have made a good forensic scientist.  I loved dance in high school and college, and while I was never good enough to perform professionally, with a little more training I could have taught and choreographed.  And I’m re-reading Guy Deutscher’s The Unfolding of Language and I’m having a bit of deja vu as I realize that linguistics could easily have held my attention as well.

It’s fun to think about what might have been.  I do love my job, though, so my early focus hasn’t harmed me too badly.

Career Day!

Today I spent my morning at an elementary school career day, talking about my job.  If you haven’t met me in person and don’t know what exactly it is I do for a living (as opposed to all this writing business, for which I do not yet get paid) then I have been successful in my quest to keep my secret identity a secret.  🙂

When I go to a career day, I don’t just talk about my job, I discuss many of the different jobs within my company.  This is standard for us; in fact, we have a PowerPoint presentation that everyone uses when they go.  I spent the morning talking about a variety of different jobs and answering a plethora of questions, not all of which were truly applicable.  Careers are always an interesting to think about when crafting a story.

One of the perks of writing fantasy (as opposed to most other fiction) is that there are very few “careers” to choose for your character.  Peasant?  Merchant?  Gypsy?  King?  Even with these, the actual job description can vary; you are creating the world, after all.  In real-world fiction, an author has two choices: give your character a job that you know a lot about (such as your own real job), or research jobs and careers before or as you write. 

Did you know there are actually books to help authors research careers?  I had an enjoyable time perusing Careers for Your Characters at the library several years ago.  I wasn’t working on a story, but I did find it amusing to peruse the book.  Of course, doing research within the field you intend to use (such as talking to people with that job or reading their trade publications) is probably a more thorough way to meet your characters.

There are resources for fantasy authors (and I use a couple myself on a semi-regular basis) to find out more about the “careers” available to characters in a more medieval world.  The beauty of fantasy is the ability to shape the rules and roles of the world to your liking.  🙂