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Brainstorm - character occupation

Captain's Log, Stardate 03.23.2009

Hey guys, I could use some help.

In my current manuscript, The Year of the Dog, which is a humorous contemporary romance, I have a minor character, Eddie. He’s my heroine’s ex-boyfriend, and they’re on good terms with each other.

He’s a bit irresponsible, but not so much so that he’s a complete loser. He’s got a very easy going attitude, he forgets to pay his bills sometimes, he’s friendly and charming. He’s adventurous and fun to be around, but he’s a little forgetful sometimes, and he tends to spend a little outside his income.

I need an occupation for him. What would a charming, easy going, slightly irresponsible guy do for a living?

He’s not too irresponsible, because otherwise readers will wonder what in the world my heroine saw in him to date him in the first place. She was attracted to his charm, his easy going attitude (her family’s uptight, and he was a nice contrast), and his adventurousness. But his forgetfulness and irresponsibility eventually annoyed her too much (she discovered she’s a bit more uptight herself than she realized).

So please comment and throw out ideas! No idea is too dumb or too silly or too improbable. I want any and all ideas you can come up with! If I use your idea, I will list your name in my acknowledgements section of the book.



  1. No desk job for this guy! He's an outside guy for sure and since he's adventerous and easy going I think he changes his mind a lot so he's had a lot of different jobs - not because he gets fired - but he just likes change and the "next thing". So right now maybe he's a landscaper. There's my idea. :)

  2. He delivers pizzas, while he's looking for the "right" job, but sometimes he doesn't get the pizza there hot because he gets sidetracked talking to little old ladies and kids, when he stops to ask for directions.

  3. A personal trainer in a high-end gym. He's charming enough to motivate the women he trains. He's very physically fit and enjoys many outdoor activities - surfing, skiing, perhaps muscleman competitions or extreme sports.

  4. Camy:
    Retail work is a perfect fit for someone who's easy going and friendly, because customers like him.
    Since he is adventuresome, he could sell anything from sailboats to hot air balloon rides!

  5. I agree with Dana - no desk job! I had a friend a few years back like what you described. He was a sales guy at Circuit City in the car stereo dept. Moved up to manager of that dept too. A couple of years ago he changed jobs to sales at a sporting goods store. He lived near the beach and loved surfing (esp when storms were coming), did street drag racing too (nutty IMO!), and was totally carefree (drove his family crazy).

  6. He runs sober groups at an outpatient treatment center. The easy going attitude would help him there and he wouldn't be responsible for the one-on-one counseling, case managing and follow-up that a counselor would need to do.

  7. Camy, I know this guy. Member of my family, but I won't name names. ha ha. He actually does a variety of things. Number one, he's a full time anthropology student (never seems to graduate) and is forever going on trips to various world locations - all in the name of research. In between classes and research, he leads groups on mountain climbing adventures. (Who knew you could teach mountain climbing in Houston,TX?) He's also been known to substitute teach at a local private school, where the high school kids think he's the coolest teacher ever. Probably because his laid-back easy-going approach to life is a little on what we used to call "a hippy lifestyle".

    Ok.. I didn't name names, but anyone in my family reading this knows exactly who I'm talking about. A little too much information. Obviously, I can't use him as a character in one of my books, so maybe you can have fun with him.

    Judy Vandiver

  8. how about the cable guy - he has to be in customer's homes every day, so his charming, easy-going nature makes him popular, but it's pretty much a dead-end job, not a lot of opportunities for advancement and such - which he doesn't mind because he'd rather leave work at work and enjoy himself everywhere else.

  9. tech-support, or maybe something like the nerd herd at the buy more.
    most of my "deadend" boyfriends were IT or Tech-Support.

  10. a dog walker for apartment dwellers
    a zoo employee
    operates a lottery booth in a mall
    gives trail hikes to school groups
    operates a bowling alley

  11. construction contractor

  12. My first thought was furniture mover or restorer or something but he gets fired because some expensive furniture is damaged due to his negligence.

  13. Well, journalist or PR specialist. For the "little bit unresponsible" aspect, this should fit, and so for the "easy-going" aspect. And they earn quite enough money to be attempted to spend more than what they earn... at least in my idea of these jobs.

  14. He works for the zoo! That's what I see him as.

  15. Barista! I've seen a guy like this at the local Starbucks: easy-going with the customers, pretty patient with weird orders like mine, but charming the other working girls and talking on his cell phone in his spare minutes.

    Can't wait to read the book!

  16. Hey Camy-

    Two ideas:

    1) Actor/Waiter. Always goes on auditions for different plays, films, movies etc.. Continuously taking acting classes. But also waits tables to earn cash until he hits it big.

    2) Freelance Graphic designer: Really talented with creating logos and designs for others. He wants to have his own company or do something in film animation but he doesn't have the discipline to follow through with his dream.

  17. Artist

    Something to do with kids---teacher, camp counselor (not the counselor maybe, but someone who works at a kids' camp), coach


    Mascot for a professional sporting team (Wouldn't that be a fun job.)


  18. ummm...let's see. A TV presentor? A model co-ordinator? Something different. Or maybe his own business, say a hair cutting saloon, where he can trust others with the work.

  19. I don't think he'd have a career--he'd have experience at many careers.

    He's a bit irresponsible, so he doesn't hold a job very long. He's likeable, so he finds it easy to get a job--but will run into trouble eventually because his resume will be too long.

    It also means he's stuck in low-paying jobs--easy to spend outside his income.

    So...messenger/courier of some sort, UPS/FedEx driver, retail, team mascot, landscape company, outdoor retail company, river guide/mountain climber guide--probably not so good if he's forgetful at times--camp counselor, etc.

  20. I have a character like this in one of my books, but I won't tell you his occupation, or why he's so laid back. :-)

    Maybe he works in a nursing home, charming the older patients and their families. Nursing homes can be sad places, at times, so this guy's easy going attitude helps cheer up the place.

    Or maybe he works with teenagers who suffer from low self-esteem. His charming attitude helps encourage them to have confidence in themselves.

    Perhaps he's the director for the local community theater. Deep down, he'd like to make it big, but is afraid of failure because his father said he'd never amount to anything.

    I love brainstorming! It's the actual writing that's hard. :)

  21. He's a salesman with a psych problem that he keeps hidden from the world. He can sell everyone on him--until they get too close.She is attracted to that side of him, but his gypsey spirit and compulsive spending tends to lead him too close to the edge for her comfort.

  22. Teaches adventure classes (rock climbing, kayacking) and leads trecks for an outfitter store.

  23. Well, this probably won't be too popular but I'm second-ing (I love making up new words!) "Anonymous" because that is EXACTLY what I was going to say. Your character description totally describes to a T these type of guys and I grew up around them, so I'm well familiar with them! :) ... my husband is one of them too, so if you went this route and need input, let me know! :) lol

  24. I was going to suggest a sales guy of some type, outside sales. But then I read Judy Vandiver's response, and I think she's spot on.

    Interesting guy!


  25. I came upon this a little late. Did you choose?

    I think he's a lawn care specialist. He throws his billing tickets in the front seat of his trash-filled truck, along with McDonald's wrappers, and petrified Twinkies.

    He is creative and gifted, but his habits are drowning him, and fortunately, he doesn't care. He is, however, passionate about lawns. He sounds like a doctor describing whatever ailment your sick lawn has. He often leaves his wallet on the front seat, never locks his doors.

    If you want him to have degrees, he could have a landscape management degree.

  26. He might be a caterer / party planner- they have very flexible hours and youneed to have great people skills to schmooze clients when an event is not going well. How well they do is up to how much drive they have - hence he doesn't want to put in the sweat equity for his own company - he'd rahter work for others and grouse about it when it gets too hard.

    There are such things as restaurant management degrees.

  27. Hey Camy,
    I pictured Eddie as a manager of one of those cell-phone booths at the mall. (You know the kind of guy that leans on the counter and flirts with the ladies that walk by.)

    He enjoys suckering new clients into exorbant payment plans in between meals at the food court, and he gets his fill of commitment by enticing unsuspecting young women to sign two-year phone contracts. (Maybe he sold your heroine her first touch-screen cell phone and she liked him so much she purchased the GPS option)
    Just a thought :)

  28. Assistant mgr at a fast food restaurant


    Utility meter reader

    Bike messenger

    Cell phone salesman

  29. Eddie could work at a nursery (garden type) then he could always bring her flowers when they were upset with each other, Keep up the good work and may God bless.

  30. He's a coffee barista for a small Christian coffee shop. Customers love him because of his easy-going attitude, charm, and sense of humor.

  31. Firefighter. Single firefighters can be like this.

  32. He's the lead singer and guitar player in a band! He also writes his own songs/music. His charm and charisma are perfect for the stage. He hasn't made it big yet, so he has to do small jobs... maybe waiter, barista, dog walker, something... and he takes time off everytime his band gets a gig, which is why he is perceived as irresponsible.

    Good luck with your ideas!

  33. I agree that he's probably had a number of different jobs, but I totally see him working someplace he gets perks--like at a gym or sporting goods store where he can use the climbing wall and go on kayaking trips for free.

    Maybe he does concert security for a local event venue, so he gets backstage access to all the hottest shows for free.

    Or he dresses as a character for an amusement park, so he is able to ride the roller coasters whenever he wants and eat fried dough and hot dogs for free.

    This is fun! I want to do more. :)

  34. Hi Camy!
    This might be a weird idea, but what about a freelance private investigator? He needs to be charming and easy-going to coax information he needs out of people, but at the same time he's irresponsible because he's having way too much fun with his job and spends too much time at it.

    Sounds like a fun story - good luck!

  35. I was thinking along the same lines; he has had many jobs:
    dog walker
    kids birthday party clown
    sales associate at Target
    hot dog vendor
    eBay seller; sells trading cards & comic books

  36. The first job that popped into my mind was manager of the local Blockbuster. LOL!

    How 'bout a tour guide? I worked in a Cavern and the guys like that got THE BEST tips. They worked in the gift shop on slow days.

  37. Some type of recreational instructor, depending on your setting-- ski instructor, surfing instructor, hang gliding instructor, scuba diving instructor, skydiving instructor, etc.

  38. Freelance writer.
    Irresponsible: He misses deadlines, doesn't remember to return calls to publishers, etc.
    But he loves what he does. He is curious and knowledge seeking driven. So when he's out researching/ interviewing people (where he is charming), he misses dates with the heroin, forgets to call, etc. In a way, the heroin got sick of him putting his passion before her.
    He is trying to get a book deal and so in the meantime doesn't get paid too well for his work but he is rewarded with perks (eg. free stuff, free trial samples, invitations to events, etc).
    This man already exists as I'm typing it all! Haha ... I'd love to develop this character some more.

  39. Hey, I know this guy! Only his name isn't Eddie. But that's neither here nor there. (I haven't read any of the other replies, so if I'm duplicating something . . . oh well. :-o)

    He's a self-made man, border-line genius. Uncanny talent with electronics--not IT. Can take a camera apart and put it together in nothing flat. Loves photography. Hires himself out for weddings, etc. He's a self-employed freelancer. Innovative when it suits him. Has a small repair shop where he tinkers. He's a sub-contractor for installing cable and satellite systems, which is basically his only income. Aside from that he'd rather trade his expertise for something instead of getting paid with cash.

    Yeah, charming to a fault, very likeable but a bit of a braggart and tends to come off as obnoxious. He's one of those guys you either love or hate. Nothing in-between. LOL

    If you like this character, let me know. I can give you a whole lot more!

  40. Camy I see him as a stand up comic. He can travel, make his own hours and his short attention span works to his advantage because people think it's part of his act.

    Linda Beed

  41. wonder if he could be a science teacher. my brother is one and it seems to be a trait. They seem to be good at there jobs just forget the other stuff like remembering to do things.

  42. He's a high school science teacher. I'm a retired teacher--not science--and I know several guys who teach science and match your description.

    I see that mine is not the first response with this answer. (They copied!)

  43. Hi Camy,
    I have 2 ideas: 1-He has his own plumbing and heating/air conditioning business. Somewhat responsible and cababple, but clueless about everything else around him. 2-He could be a small business consultant (every University has a Small Business Development Center) where he meets with clients on a daily basis that want to start small businesses, but this gives him a very flexible schedule and lots of time to play golf in the afternoon, he is basically clueless too- I think most guys are when it comes to girls! (and, unfortunately, life in general at times!!!) Good luck Camy!

  44. My thought is that he's a sports writer for either a large newspaper or magazine. He would be around lots of famous sports figures and would need to keep up with the Joneses, so he spends above his means. His commitment would only be to the "GAME" and not to any girlfriends. He spends a lot of time and attention on stats instead of the love of his life.

  45. How about a football coach at the local high school, and he also teaches a easy-pass class that all of the kids take because he's so much fun to be around? The girls would crush on him, and the guys would love their coach.

  46. Definetly sounds like he works in food service. I think he should work in a restaurant.

  47. I'd say he works at a golf resort. Maybe a caddy or a guy who gives tours? Somewhere he can look nice, smell nice but not be stuck behind a desk.

  48. I think he works for the pet store in the mall. The one off in the little corner by the JcPenneys and the Payless shoe store. He loves animals and shows his affection by caring for them when he remembers to clean their cages...

    Or, he's a clerk at the local PetSmart and enjoys talking with the customers and their pets as he stocks shelves or runs the register...

  49. I think he should be the web marketing manager for an animation company. That's where those personality traits could combine to make a "pretty normal" guy.

  50. (Reminds me a bit of a few guys I've met!)

    He does sales calls from home very part-time; this would fit in with your guy: he can be charming on the phone, and strikes up long conversations with the people he calls/who call him until they like him so much they can't not buy! And who doesn't just love a salesman who's not pushy at all?

    In his free time, this guy offers rides on his sailboat, maybe even sailing classes. It gets him outdoors, he can hang with cool people, and he makes a couple hundred a pop for playing around on the lake (or other body of water).

    Both of his jobs add up to irregular income, a disregard for deadlines, and high flexibility :-D

  51. I see him as a seasonal worker -- white water rafting guide in the summer, ski instructor in the winter, or maybe he goes to Aruba in the winter and leads scuba diving excursions! Cool life that probably requires more money that he would make. I can't wait to read the book!

  52. He's a valet. He charms his ways to great tips and enjoys the late hours. Sometimes when he needs to park a nice car, it takes a bit longer as he circles the block a few extra times.

  53. Funny how there are several of us who know this same guy!! He sounds a lot like my co-workers' ex (even the forgetting to pay his bills part... this guy had his electricity shut off for a time because the bill had been "buried") The guy I know is a radio dj... extremely personal and charming, just a tad bit flighty!!

  54. I would venture to say he is a bill collector, though he's late in paying his own bills---kinda like a plumber, doesn't fix his own plumbing problems. I have a relative that is in bill collecting, and is very laid back and yet assertive when needed. They don't make a lot if not too successful, so it would be easy to outspend his income, thus even endangering himself to be bugged by a bill collector. His adventurous behaviors keep him spending too much.

  55. I think he is an Assistant Manager at a Large Pet Supply Store. You know one of those "SmartPet" stores. He has to get to know the customers dogs and greet all the Reps that service the store. He sometimes forgets to check the schedule to see what his hours are.

  56. Car boot salesman. Sells trash and treasure items at markets.

    Could be a photograher a magazine that publishes travel or advenure magazines.

  57. How about he lives with his parents due to his forgetfulness for paying his bills

  58. How about some one like the absent-minded professor.

    Teacher/professor of sorts.

  59. How about my profession, a basic skills teacher? I travel to 4 different schools and have a classroom inside a large mobile unit. You have to be easy going and flexible with my schedule, and you also have to be friendly and fun to work with so many students.

  60. I haven't read the other comments, but one of my first thoughts was, "an artist". Not a writer, but a painter or something. Maybe he's such a talented painter that each of his paintings sell for a lot, so he doesn't have to worry so much about money. But he still has to paint.

  61. graphics artist
    video store manager

    Pat Cochran

  62. So many great ideas! How are you ever going to choose?
    I think I dated a couple of these types too.
    One in particular stands out.
    He was going to college to be a lawyer and changed his mind after meeting me. Outdoorsie kind of guy. Worked at Calaway Gardens and as a lifeguard during summers. Decided he was going to become a teacher. Drove a Yugo! It broke down on a date we had.
    LOL Remember those! I wonder what became of him.

  63. I knew a guy like this. He worked for his Dad's company, a paint warehouse of sorts. He had a desk job but seemed always to be able to jump at every opportunity for fun.

  64. he sounds like a lot of guys here at how about a wrecker driver? Or a mechanic?

  65. These were really fun to read! Now for my two cents...

    I'm picturing someone with a great personality and a good education but with the "out of sight, out of mind" mentality--someone who is super focused on the task at hand. After all, a guy like that can make you feel on top of the world whenever he is around...the frustration would only come when you were out of sight and therefore a little out of his mind.

    How about a camp recreation director or a coach? It would be a job where someone else sets up his schedule and has a lot of variety. Plus, it would have the added charm of someone who does care about people.


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