Friday, May 16, 2014

Determining a Character's Skillset

Only one of my series' characters has skill sets similar to mine. The rest are all different and require some research. When I do research a particular job I prefer talking to people in the job over simple dry, boring, routine searches of job descriptions, Wikipedia entries and career sites.

I've been fortunate to have a wide group of friends and acquaintances and have enough folks on hand to ask about social work, medical coding, security officers, police officers, construction work, plumbers, electricians, and mechanics.  Which makes it fairly easy to fact check certain aspects of a story line.

The problem arises when one character in particular is in a field I've never even been close to working in or with: she's an "almost" supermodel. And I despise the fashion industry in general, which makes it more difficult for me to work on her character's story lines. Her only saving grace is she's a Fae-hybrid.

As I was digging through modeling research I began to wonder how other writer's determine their character's career choices and various skill sets. For instance, Jess happens to have a lot of practical farm skills even though she works as a medical coder and has previous experience in web design. Although several of those aspects come from my own experiences, I did not create her to be that way. Jess simply "told" me what she does.

Do your characters tell you what they do for a living or do you determine that for them? I would expect writers who do plot outlines would say yes, but what about the rest of us "pantsers"?

1 comment:

Carissa's Musings said...

Usually my characters come in swinging for the fence and I know everything about them in 30 seconds. If I try to alter that- it all goes bad real fast. I have "what-iffed" characters with other writers who needed a secondary and couldn't figure the aspects, but mine know who and what they are.