General, worldbuilding

Creating Fictional Professions

Regardless of how much or how little worldbuilding you do, at some point it will impact your characters. One of the ways this can happen is in their professions.

Any job seeker can tell you that there are a number of skills they’ve picked up throughout their career. Those skills can come in handy when trying to solve a plot problem. More importantly, day jobs typically involve routines. That routine is where a lot of stories start: the disruption of the day-to-day order of events.

 The particular setting of a story heavily impacts the available professions. Modern day settings allow for remote jobs. Something set in the early ninety-twenties won’t have remote opportunities.   

What happens to jobs when you have a fictional setting? Although this is one of those places where you could easily become bogged down in the worldbuilding details, it’s very possible to keep it simple. Certain work is ageless: anything involving food or food sources. Today we rely on farmers and chefs to produce food—which hasn’t changed too much throughout history. Someone needs to grow the food and someone needs to prepare it.

In case your character’s job needs to reflect your setting in some way, you can specify their job title to help do so. Continuing with our farmer example, ‘farmer’ might be a generic title. However, if you add on hydroponic you have something that sounds a little more sci-fi and makes complete sense for long-distance space travel. And heading towards fantasy, a cattle rancher might simply become a dragon rancher.

Similarly, you can simply swap some roles to figure out what their fictional counterpart might be. Your world might not have pharmacists or chemists, but it might have an alchemist. Does your bricklayer also lay wards into his buildings? Or perhaps your spaceship architect could have consulted with a structural designer before making the crew quarters only three feet wide.

What are some fictional professions you’ve used? Let me know in the comments below!  


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