Aaaaand we're back. Remember when I was going to post Weekly Writing Wrambling entires...weekly? And on Thursdays? Yeah, me too. Anyway, as I was writing my Veronica Mars post, I got somewhat caught up on the idea of high school as a storytelling setting, which made me this this could be a good topic for a post. Or posts, as it will now be.
The issue with settings is that there is no rule because genres are too
diverse. Consider Science Fiction: you could have the setting be an entirely
different planet, different era, and with different dynamics. Perhaps your
society does not have schools, but rather has cryogenic tanks where people age
until adulthood. So there is no rule, but there are guidelines that should be
Life, regardless of what genre you are choosing to write in, is somewhat
divided into three areas: our social
lives, our working lives (which
includes school), and our home lives.
The next three weeks I am going to talk about the needs each area has, with one
(maybe more) posts after that to discuss how the three interact. This week, I will
discuss work life.
Work life is the area that can be most easily skipped. Does it really matter
if your teenage protagonist goes to school when your book is over summer break?
But then again, if you are writing a mystery, your focus would be on the
protagonist's work life. Work life can also be incredibly social or rather
lonely, and maybe it can be both depending on the situation. However, because
work is such a significant part of our lives, it needs to be a
significant part of a character's life. Even if one's story is not
taking place at work, the stresses and situations one must deal with at work
bleeds over into a person's social and home lives.
Because of this, it is important to have one’s work life well thought out,
even if it does not change the story at all. A work life can be sporadic, but
there is usually some sort of schedule. For students, I have always found it
useful to create a class schedule for them and their friends. With a person who
is in some sort of shift schedule, it may be useful to create a similar
schedule with what their jobs entail during various days and times. Do Tuesdays
involve unpacking deliveries? When does the next week’s schedule get posted? Even
a 9-5 job might include weekly meetings that can be scheduled. Small details
like that might not make it into the pages, but again, a casual reference is
going to make your story seem more realistic.
Additionally, it is a good idea to know the responsibilities of one’s job. Go
on a job searching site and look at the job descriptions. Get an idea of what
your character needs to do at work, and what skills they probably have. Maybe
they are a secretary; in that case, they would probably have Work and Excel
prowess, be organized, have a good phone manner, and be somewhat
people-friendly. Again, will it ever come up in your story that your character
can make a mean spreadsheet? Perhaps not. But if it comes up, then you know
whether your character can or cannot do it.
In short, work life might be skipped or might be focused on. However, the
more you know about the character, the more you know about them. Remember, work
life always overflows and creates stresses that you have to deal with in your
social and home lives. Get a firm understanding of the work setting and your
character will be more realistic for it.
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