Is the protagonist’s job important?
First of all: Mia, thanks so much for having me on your blog! I’m so glad I got this chance – and I hope I won’t bore the hair off your head with this guest post…
I recently read a blog comment that it doesn’t really matter what the protagonist does for a living because emotions, motivations, the love story and the conflict pay a much more important role. While I agree that these are priorities and make up a good book, I still believe that the protagonist’s job is relevant to the story. It’s part and parcel of who they are. Just take yourself, for example: Don’t you think if you had a different job, you’d be a different person? Doesn’t your job determine your life to some extent? Your decisions, your free time, your choices, and above all your financial situation?
Sometimes, the job is essential to the plot and the character development. Take all those books where the heroine is a wedding planner. Nothing like planning a client’s wedding and falling for the hunky groom-to-be, don’t you agree? There are many other examples. A doctor might meet a patient, or a maid might fall for the lord of the house. A relationship could get difficult or be forbidden because the boss and the secretary or the teacher and the student shouldn’t flirt. The job can actually be the reason why the hero and heroine meet or why their love story is doomed. Also, it might be their work that gets them into trouble or on the contrary gives them the knowledge and experience to handle trouble. What about all those secret agents, detectives, cowboys, and athletes? Their job is who they are, their job is basically the whole novel!
At other times, the protagonist’s occupation might take a backseat. Still, pick the job with care because what we do for a living says a lot about what we believe in and what we are associated with. Settling on too ordinary jobs might bore the reader. In my debut “When I see your Face”, I had Cathy decide to start her own cake business because that was such a total opposite to the busy, glamorous city life she ran away from. Similarly, I had Michael become a gardener to let out his sensitive side that nearly got extinguished when he was working as a business tycoon. As for my latest release “Playing with Fire”, I chose the job of a librarian for Felicia because it balances the fiery side of her. She’s been hiding her magic and reining in her temperament for most of her life, so this seemed the perfect job choice to keep her grounded and hidden. You’ll understand why I chose to make Joshua a private investigator if you read the story… *hint hint*
Use jobs to
- Create contrasts between the characters
- Advance the conflict
- Fill in the blanks
- Give your protagonists the skills and knowledge to save themselves
- Make your protagonist stand out from the masses
Almost as soon as Devika Fernando could write, she imagined stories and poems. After finishing her education in Germany and returning to her roots in Sri Lanka, she got a chance to turn her passion into her profession. Having lived in Germany and in Sri Lanka with her husband has made her experience the best (and the worst) of two totally different worlds – something that influences her writing. Her trademark is writing sweet, yet deeply emotional romance stories where the characters actually fall in love instead of merely falling in lust. What she loves most about being an author is the chance to create new worlds and send her protagonists on a journey full of ups and downs that will leave them changed. She draws inspiration from everyone and everything in life. Besides being a romance novel author, she works as a self-employed German web content writer, as a translator, and as a faithful servant to all the cats, dogs, fish and birds in her home. When she’s not writing, she’s reading or thinking about writing.
Many THANKS to DEVIKA for her time and appearance. Best of writing luck :)