Characters and Careers


A career molds how a character views the world. For instance, writers see stories in everything.

I use job and career interchangeably because, in my series, the word career doesn't exist.

In The Sciell, I didn't have to worry about careers. The characters lived in a small community. They didn't have any career aspirations. Most came from well off families. They didn't need a job. In Shade's case, no one wanted to work with a half-breed.  Her parents weren't wealthy, but they had enough money to help her.

These characters' career goals was to find a place where they belonged.

That finding a home theme continues in Chains of the Sciell. But, the new characters don't live in a vacuum. They live in big cities. They need money, which means a job. Once I gave them jobs, I fixed their sections.

Here are two characters describing the same area- The Aldric Abyss.



Divine Mathews 

How in the name of Darkness had he gotten in the middle of the Aldric Abyss? The yellow ocean engulfed him on all sides. The Orlon Mountain Ranges held him prisoner. The last time he visited West Jael was to see that toilet people called Denont University. That experience tasted worse than this sand.

The Aldric Abyss was an insult. A massive stretch of land he couldn’t build houses on. The Abyss didn’t have the nerve to be historic like Middle Jael. Since Jaelians liked blowing things up, they should’ve used their missiles to wipe this sandy waste of space off the world instead of aiming for the Walls. 



Josephine Royal

She couldn’t take her eyes off the Orlon Mountain Ranges and the Aldric desert as the train sped past. Her insides bubble. Her heart jumped. One day, she’d be able to explore that sandy abyss. For centuries, scientists conducted countless experiments on the area. They don’t know why toxic air rose from the desert’s ground. No one ever traveled from one side to the other without suffering a severe mental breakdown. 

One day, she’d have the equipment to dig as far down as needed. She’d find out what in the name of Darkness was under there. Her blood became electric. The toxins wouldn’t affect her. She’d be able to spend days, months exploring an untouched area. What could be under the desert? A new species of animal or plant-life, a geographical formation that produced the poisonous gas. One day, she’d find out.


Because of their jobs--their passions, they see the same place differently.

Divine builds homes. He studied at a prestigious overseas university in T'sya-- a land that influenced architecture around the world. He looks at land as potential places to build on. He describes houses as though he's selling them.

Josephine, on the other hand, is an historian. She's a researcher at heart. She's sent around the world to explore untouched areas. Explore really means steal food, medicine, treasure... She sees this as the price of getting paid to do something she loves.

How do you decided a career for your characters?

In some cases, like in Lynn Flewelling's Luck in the Shadows, the characters' job, being noble thieves, was an important plot point?

Because Darkness is taking over in my Merging Worlds series, humans need some supernatural help to survive. The non-human beings create shields over villages, they manage trade between communities since traveling across the land is dangerous, they give the communities electricity and use their power to maintain crops.

These POV characters are always looking for natural and man-made things to trade. They know every person in the villages they hold contracts with just in case a person has a profession another village needs. Some things they won't do or say because they don't want to give humans a reason to "fire" them. They rarely stop working.

Some characters needed a job of the main world. I spent some time thinking what they would love doing for a living. Fortunately, I was able to stick with careers I knew something about.

The career or job permeates every part of the character's lives. They're working even if they aren't working.

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I'll be traveling to Chicago this evening! Tomorrow I'll be on a Dark Fantasy and Science Fiction Panel with Fonda LeeKen Liu and Sabaa Tahir at the American Library Association's Midwinter meeting. My first Panel!!!

Update: The panel was amazing!