Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Working girls

A trend I’ve noticed in romance is giving the characters strange jobs. For instance, in Kelley St. John’s Good Girls Don’t, the heroine works for an alibi agency. In Johanna Edwards’ Your Big Break, the heroine works for an agency that facilitates romantic breakups.

The trend makes sense to our society right now. We’re so busy with our work lives that we often don’t have time for tasks we used to consider personal, so we pay someone else to do them. And that opens up romantic plot possibilities, because strangers are sharing an intimacy.

In this survey from, workers share some of the more unusual jobs they’ve held. Maybe the list will give you ideas for your next novel. I’d love to write a story around a lifeguard at a nude beach or a stand-in bridesmaid.

Urinalysis observer or zoo artificial inseminator, maybe not so much.

Do the characters’ careers play a big part in the novels you write?


Kathy said...

Interesting list! Is it safe to say that character's careers are offshoots of character personalities?

Perhaps the backup dancer for a female impersonator is a struggling dancer who is forced to take the one and only gig he or she can get in order to get the experience needed to get a foot in the door. And think of the bride who is forced to hire a stand-in bridesmaid in order to impress wedding guests into believing she is well to do. What pressure!

This list is a great brainstormer.


Kelley St. John said...

Thanks for the positive comments on Good Girls Don't, Jenn :)

As far as strange career choices for characters, I find that's a definite key part of the book for all of my novels. The career choice doesn't have to be "odd" necesssarily, as much as it has to showcase your character.

For example, Clarise in Real Women Don't Wear Size 2 is the manager of a Women's Department in an elite clothing store. The reason the career choice really worked for her is that while she finds it easy to help other women accentuate their curves and attempts to portray "confidently curvy" to her customers, deep inside, she's still trying to find the courage to set her own inhibitions free and flaunt her stuff.

It's fun to play with careers for characters, because it completely changes the way they look at their surroundings, based on what they see everyday at work.

Great Topic!

Paula said...

My struggle, writing category romantic suspense, is in coming up with heroes and/or heroines who AREN'T soldiers, cops or government agents. ;) The access to information necessary to investigate a mystery isn't available to any ol' Tom, Dick or Harry.

I'm getting around it, a bit, in my WIP by having my current hero be a sort of jack of all trades, known to everyone on the island, which gets him in doors the heroine couldn't get into by herself. But even he is a former agent with the State Dept's Diplomatic Security Service.

jennifer echols said...

Another interesting job for a romance hero ;)

MaryF said...

I actually wrote about a vet who worked breeding rhinos with artificial insemination. I did a LOT of research on that one, and it's still under the bed.

Nowadays, it's cops and military guys, though I swore I'd never write those.