Screenwriting : Character's job by Desiree Argentina

Desiree Argentina

Character's job

Wondering how everyone gets ideas about what their character does for work. Can't figure out what I want my main character to do. I know I want her in an office job because the script is going to have some office drama but I don't know what she is doing in the office. Ideas?

Gary Smiley

An adjuster who approves/denies claims but first has to get feedback from random people on the merits of each case...

Doug Nelson

Why is it important to the story to specify her job title? Is she in competition with a/some fellow coworkers for a promotion or some handsome upper level stud? Is she in a managerial position overseeing a hive of worker bees (male/female/mix)? What does your story suggest she be - a kind, caring person; a covetous witch; an airheaded bimbo...?

Bill Costantini

Usually - not always, but usually - someone's occupation has some type-of meaning to a story, like:

+ it contributes to the character's overall feelings (from anger to frustration to elation in life), and has critical bearing in the story.

+ audience members "can relate" to that position, or situation.

+ it provides some enlightenment on that specific position.

+ it provides a knowledge/revelation that enables something else to occur in the story.

+ the occupation allows for irony/foreshadowing to take place later.

+ it can provide a B-Story or C-Story.

+ it can provide additional dramatic meaning - from comic relief, to serious agitation.

+ it can provide some further meaning that includes additional meanings/impacts/intents.

Choose wisely! It should all have a purpose, and you don't want to later be left with the feeling that you missed out on something that didn't deliver on its fullest dramatic potential.

Best fortunes in your creative endeavors, Desiree!

Dan MaxXx

Many movies, a character's job occupation/ordinary skills is a set-up for a plot twist moment. Done well, audiences never see it coming.

Anthony Moore

John McClain was a cop. What happens during the script that requires your character to have a certain set of skills? How would they acquire those skills? What job would you associate with those skills?

Mark Heartford

may you could look at what the character main goal is, does she want to get promotion in the office or is she after the manager because shes loves them? or does she stat in the office and leave in the first scene to do what ever her goal is?

Evelien And Dorien Twins

Maybe just start writing the script? Perhaps the title will come through osmosis.

Artisan James

Maybe have them do something unexpected in contrast to their ordinary life... something that will then later become integral to the plot. The Wrestler is a good example -- Rourke's character works as a wrestler for small promotions... but he also works a part-time job at a deli in a supermarket! His boss bickers him there... and then eventually something crucial happens that plays into the third act.

Stevan Šerban

Hi Desiree,

Here's an interesting suggestion.

Madison (35), chubby, cute, educated and very professional, works in the office with very powerful computers as a technical support at an agency that hires professional killers, but at home as a mother and wife suffers domestic violence by her husband.

Sounds interesting? Do you want more?

Wish you all the best,


Jack Teague

Seems to me her position in the office could/should be instigation to the event in the office

Craig D Griffiths

Could be the most boring company in the world. She does social media for a toilet paper company, or she looks after office supplies for a gravel retailer.

Eric Paul Chapman

I often get stuck on character's occupations, so I'm kind of glad to see I'm not alone. Usually it comes to me as I'm writing. Something just clicks. I've found that searching through the want ads doesn't help much, for whatever reason. Like others have suggested, you need to ask yourself questions about who your character is and what she wants out of life. And that should lead to the right sort of job.

Christine Capone

What's the story about? I'm sure her office job has to relate to the concept of the story somehow.

Stevan Šerban

Perhaps you should first define whether your story is a plot driven or character driven story. If your story is a plot driven story then it is completely irrelevant what the characters do in the office (in my opinion), but if your story is a character driven story, then you have to ask yourself what your character works in the office, what are his / her problems at work, what are his / her goals in life, what stands as an obstacle in front of him / her until achieving those goals ....

Try to think in this direction. It helps me a lot.

Bruce W. Van Alstyne

It really depends on the story I am writing. If it is about a chef, most of the action is going to be in the kitchen, or if they are doctors or lawyers. I guess it really depends on the story. Is your character an owner of this business or is she just a rep or a personal secretary?

Roman BRuni

do not waist time creating a backstory for your character, cause the office might be blown to pieces in the next scene...

as you do not know what he is doing there, why not just let him be in a 'neutral office' without markings ? we are too much filled with explanations all the time in movies ...

Roman BRuni

also: creating a backstory for your character

seems to be a method actor influence from stanislawski.

if that is what you want to develop... reccomend get the book

from ' DARIO FO' small manual for the actor ( where he describes

that most actions gestures for actors come from work related activies...)

Sarah Gabrielle Baron

Always reach for the absurd. It makes the viewing more fun and will take your characters to interesting places even you hadn't considered yet. Office job? Uuhhh...pest control. Baby food marketing. Bad Ideas police (human resources). Don't keep it vague. Give your characters VERY FULL lives, write about them in your scrap paper journal, draw them, make a colourful character web to show their interconnections. What I'm saying is, the more rich you make your character's back stories before you start writing, the better your dialogue will naturally be, and good dialogue is the key to a good screenplay.

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