A newspaper editor I know once told me about an adventurous photojournalist he worked with who had found himself in a dangerous situation while on assignment in Central America. The photojournalist, a New Yorker, was working on an article about the drug trade and he had hired a translator to help him locate sources for the story. Unfortunately, the photojournalist and the translator were kidnapped by gang members and ordered into the back of a van. The gang had already taken their money and everything of potential value in their wallets. So, being driven to who knows where could only end badly, the photojournalist thought. And so did the translator, who began to converse with his captors.
If you’re an inexperienced writer who endeavors to create a novel or short story and are unsure of how to get started, I would advise putting your characters to work. Give them jobs. The reason why is because jobs allow you, as the author, to address the two most important elements of successful storytelling: character and plot.
How many people do you know who allow themselves to be defined by their jobs? How many have work personalities distinct from who they are away from the office? The truth is what people do and how they approach the act of doing it allows great insight into their morals, values and motivations. As a storyteller who aims to build deep, three-dimensional characters, you should know how crucial occupations are to your work. Researching various disciplines also trains you in a core pillar of craftwork: specificity.