Feb 14 2009

How to Give Your Superhero A Day Job

If your superhero has a secret identity, he probably has a day job.  Here are some tips for picking an effective day job.

1.  It will be easier to pace the story if the day job can set the hero against the villain. For example, if there’s a new supervillain in town, a journalist has to report what happened, detectives have to investigate his crimes, lawyers might be involved if someone got framed, etc.

2.  Superhero day jobs are often investigative in nature.  Journalists, detectives, lawyers, private investigators and the like are very popular.

3.  Superhero day-jobs usually have a distant boss.  For example, Peter Parker and Clark Kent do most of their work outside the office.  (This makes it a bit easier for them to maintain some independence from their boss).

4.  For dramatic purposes, it’s best to have a tough boss.  That gives you opportunities for conflict and will help make the character relatable and likable.  If the character doesn’t have a boss (because he freelances or owns the company), his obstacles will probably be less serious.  (Alternately, he might have corporate obstacles, like Bruce Wayne having to fight to keep control of Wayne Enterprises, but it’s definitely not as as relatable).

5.  It will probably be most dramatic if the job is stressful and high-stakes.  Would you rather read a story about a superhero that was a professional knitter by day or a superhero that was a detective investigating a grisly string of murders?

If you liked this article, you will probably like Common Superhero Day Jobs.

131 responses so far

131 Responses to “How to Give Your Superhero A Day Job”

  1. ikarus619xon 05 Apr 2009 at 6:32 pm

    Could school count? Teen heros would be there most of the time, and another activity might be excessive.

  2. Ragged Boyon 05 Apr 2009 at 6:59 pm

    I guess that counts. It’s more of a norm than a day job. Most teens don’t actually work at a day job instead of going to school. I think a part-time job along with school could work.

  3. B. Macon 06 Apr 2009 at 3:31 am

    I think it’s fine to have a hero do school as his only job, but I’d really recommend mixing up your school setting. Most of the students I’ve seen are pretty much interchangeable with Peter Parker: an innocent dweeb struggling with nasty jocks.

    You need conflict, but it doesn’t have to be the protagonist vs. jocks.

  4. Tomon 06 Apr 2009 at 5:19 am

    Also, try NOT to do what I’ve done and have a new kid come to the school every now and then, and every single time turn out to be a supervillain.

  5. B. Macon 06 Apr 2009 at 5:45 am

    That sounds pretty awkward, Tom, but to be fair I think that cartoon shows have a lot of leeway to suddenly introduce villains-of-the-week.

  6. mrs marvelon 10 Jul 2009 at 4:09 pm

    If teen heroes can go to school, how can you get a teen zombie to school without the whole school running their heads off screaming? He’s still a hero, so he doesn’t want to live in hiding for the rest of his life…

  7. B. Macon 10 Jul 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Maybe put him in a school for special kids (superhumans or whatever), like the Xavier Institute. Since he looks like a zombie, I think regular kids at a real school would probably run away screaming. Unless… maybe he is first introduced to the kids at the school when he stops something truly horrifying? I think Firebreather did something similar with a half-dragon in a random Nevada school.

  8. XoXoPhyreon 23 Jul 2009 at 8:15 am

    This helped a lot since I’m writing a novel about a new team of heroes and some of my characters have day jobs. One of my female heroes is a supermodel, so she’s constantly being flown to other parts of the world. This puts somewhat of a damper on her relationship with her teammates because she becomes unreliable. I also have a member who’s in college, so he has to deal with the stress of being a hero and a student.

  9. Marissaon 23 Jul 2009 at 11:43 am

    Yikes, hero and student sounds like hell.

    Haven’t seen you around, XoXo, so welcome to Superhero Nation! 😀

  10. Mike Alexanderon 06 Apr 2010 at 12:23 pm

    I figured out the day-job thing. They work for the gov’t, getting a paycheck and a place to live. That way they can fight crime, and not have to worry about getting fired all the time. You can still have drama/comedy, but the conflict comes from the workplace environment. I pretty much leave kids alone, unless they’re in college, which is easier to explain cutting classes.

    The job I had for the last decade wouldn’t give me ANY opportunities to fly off and save the city. Zookeepers can’t sneak away at any time (cleaning takes hours, vet emergencies, possible animal escapes, etc). At least not for more than five minutes at a time. I take my cues from that: most ‘regular’ jobs don’t let you escape, either.

    I read comics for the escapism. Sure, having peter parker sew his costume back together helps me relate to him, but I pay rent, and would rather not read about someone else worrying about paying rent. Having powers is the fantasy, not getting evicted.

  11. ShardReaperon 06 Apr 2010 at 2:35 pm

    So does that mean they access government tech to help them with their heroics?

  12. Mike Alexanderon 06 Apr 2010 at 4:05 pm

    pretty much. I could never figure out how, unless you used a scanner or had super-senses, one could find crime to stop it. So heroes are pretty much dispatched as needed, using comm tech. For example, if you could fly/teleport/run, you’d have an earpiece and HUD glasses. Someone would give you GPS coordinates as soon as something came over the air.

    I don’t see how most heroes would be effective against muggings, unless they happened to cross that particular alley. Most of my higher powered heroes would show up for fires, environmental disasters, and the like. Some heroes are guided through mystic means, so can help with earthquakes or purse snatchers. Other lower level heroes are either pro-active, like Justice League Extreme, or the Outsiders; while the UN is benign, there are still terrorists/drug lords/serial killers/super villains.

    I’m trying to walk the line between justice and political motives. The UN is pretty much hands off, but since gov’t is still local, there will be abuses of power, and the Court of World Law (COWL) needs to step in once in a while. There is Judge and a Prosecutor on each mission of COWL, to ensure that impartiality rules. COWL is actually made up of specialists from various super teams, to fit the needs of the individual mission. Sometimes a high power hero will accompany them as cover. For example, a politician is enaged in something illegal. It may be a bad move to publicly arrest him, so his office may be quietly infiltrated, with the evidence turned over to the citizens. During the mission, if the building is destroyed (super villain partner no one knew about), a high power hero might show up to rescue other people from the situation.

    I know this smacks of rendition, but I conceived of this idea when I was younger and idealistic. I do want to explore how this can go wrong; ultimately stuff like this does lead to the UN fracturing. In the future, there are many more political states instead of the 20 or so in the current time period.

  13. B. Macon 06 Apr 2010 at 4:25 pm

    “I could never figure out how, unless you used a scanner or had super-senses, one could find crime to stop it.” Here are a few options.

    –I think that most readers will give you the benefit of the doubt that a modern (American) city has so much crime going on that a hero can go on patrol and encounter armed robberies without much trouble. That’s probably not realistic in most places, but it’s generally accepted by readers and editors.

    –Another option would be connections to a security firm, like one of those companies that does alarms. So the superhero has access (legal or not) to know when the alarms go off. Legally, he might have a friend or partner at the company. Illegally, he might have hacked them or made/stolen a scanner.

    –The hero might have excellent sources among criminals. Maybe one of his contacts gives him a heads-up about upcoming major crimes. (For dramatic effect, the information might be vague and require the hero to search for more information on his own).

    –The hero might piece together information to predict where/when a crime is going to happen. For example, if he’s been following a known criminal and he observes the criminal parking a car outside of a bank for many hours, it’s a pretty good guess that he’s casing the joint for a robbery.

    –You could tail criminals. It probably won’t get you results every night, or perhaps every week, but over a matter of weeks it’s pretty likely that a mob enforcer is going to do something interesting. (This would probably be more effective if the hero is able to follow the criminal inside buildings where he is not welcome).

  14. Mike Alexanderon 09 Apr 2010 at 10:33 am

    B. Mac- thanks for the points. I’ve walked through some bad parts of detroit, and never saw anything. Either I was just unobservant or (thankfully) in the wrong place…

    I kinda figured on stuff like noticing a getaway car, or contacts with criminals. But it seems to me that some sort of support system is needed no matter what. I get the detective stuff, like searching the news for potential targets, and knowing the Penguin got released last week. That’s all part and parcel, but just flying over the city several hundred feet up wont let you see the mugging in the alley. So either you hack into police/fire/security systems or supersenses (mystical or not) are needed. But you’re right, I should just “BE” and accept the trope that a hero is more statistically likely to come across a crime or get there before the authorities.

    As for animals- I’ve worked with just about everything under the sun. I went to Santa Fe Teaching Zoo, where they rotate you through a variety mammals, reptiles, and birds. I spent a year at Birmingham Zoo, AL working primates and large mammals (gorillas, orangs, gibbons, tamarins, rhino, hippos, elephants, camels, cheetah, antelopes) Then I spent the last 7 years at Miami MetroZoo, where I spent a most of my time with antelopes and gazelles.

    I’ve been in the water (waist deep) with alligators, wrestled various hoofstock (vet procedures), all pretty much stuff you don’t want to try at home.

    In fact- if you want, I just realized, I would be willing to answer animal behavior questions for writing purposes. It would be based on my experience, which isn’t indicative of what other keepers have been through. At the vary least, I could point people toward links they might find useful. I’m just concerned that something could be taken out of context (keepers are not socially skilled), but I would welcome an opportunity to explain things.

  15. Herojockon 03 Jun 2010 at 10:57 am

    Hey I’ve decided to give my superhero a job I think might be rather unique. His essentially a film maker but more particularly a documentary film maker. He works with his graduate friends and family from University who know his secret identity. Using the power of the TV medium he unearths the ‘untold stories’. He also has a close relationship with a talk show host. Strengthened by the fact that they share the same agent.

    The first time he properly reveals himself publicly as Superhero. He appears on her show and effectively launches both of their careers into global mega stardom.


  16. B. Macon 03 Jun 2010 at 1:24 pm

    “He appears on her show and effectively launches both of their careers into global mega stardom.” Could I suggest adding more obstacles and maybe more conflict? I’d recommend stretching out the journey so that at least one of them still has something to prove. (So maybe she gets an exciting new job offer, but now has to prove herself in a ridiculously competitive and top-notch organization).

    How does revealing himself to the public turn him into a megastar? How does being a megastar make his work as a superhero more difficult? (Also, I imagine that people who were once close to him are at least somewhat annoyed that he lied to them all this time and they might legitimately be afraid that he has put them in danger. And his university would probably be upset, particularly if a supervillain attacks him on campus). Maybe he inadvertently causes property damage or slightly injures someone and his alternate identity gets sued.

    I like the filmmaker angle. Does he work for a company or is he indy? (If he’s independent, how does he put food on the table?)

    Why does he choose to reveal his identity? It seems like a major step for the character, so it’s definitely something that I’d recommend explaining in-story, probably tying the decision to his goals and character traits.

  17. ShardReaperon 03 Jun 2010 at 5:15 pm

    I’m with B. Mac, I like the idea of a filmmaker who also moonlights as a superhero. Before revealing his identity, does he try to cash in on his own success like Peter Parker?

  18. Herojockon 04 Jun 2010 at 10:29 am

    Thanks for the feedback. Regarding their Journey, I would never let the two of them instantly achieve stardom without earning their success. At first the idea of him using his superpowers to film a documentary on his adventures seems rewarding. Certainly financially as his agent will find out about his identity and together they work on cashing in. The hero, the agent and the tv reporter will form a love triangle. His agent has to fight her own battle with the tv reporter. While he fights the panic on the streets that he causes.

    I am working on a rival. He might discover the Superhero identity before the public and films his acts of crime. By doing this he causes moral panic, as he attributes everything he does to the Superhero, who is then blamed for contributing to a ‘copycat killer’. But I do have a habit of being afraid of naming villains and heroes. I’m too worried about them sounding too cheesy. So far I am just calling him Blockbuster. I stress so far.

  19. Herojockon 04 Jun 2010 at 10:32 am

    I was thinking of making Blockbuster kill others in the style of his favourite film scenes. Especially those he has seen the Superhero direct. But my brother thought it was a very poor idea. I’m open to criticisms.

  20. Herojockon 04 Jun 2010 at 10:49 am

    I have various thoughts on a squeal to this story. I want him to continue filming his heroics and making films. I think in real life if a superhero did this, ignoring the ethical implications, it would be an instant success. The superhero genre would become a strange and exciting reality. Forget going to the cinema to see the latest filmed action/superhero movie. Although I think the foreign sales will be higher than the domestic. I can’t see a lot of people enjoying watching the superhero smash through their local buildings and causing mass damage to their own beloved cities. I got an idea how he manages to invent a nifty way of following his antics too.

  21. B. Macon 04 Jun 2010 at 2:33 pm

    “The superhero genre would become a strange and exciting reality. Forget going to the cinema to see the latest filmed action/superhero movie.” I think that’d be borderline-plausible, but it might be more believable as an underground sort of thing. (Like going to a fight club rather than watching a boxing match or, God forbid, professional wrestling).

  22. Herojockon 04 Jun 2010 at 4:50 pm

    Borderline-plausibility despite our love of reality tv shows? If a superhero of the likes of Superman or Iron man filmed their adventures. I imagined the whole world would be glued to their screens. Especially if he or she refused many interviews and that was only one of the very few ways you could see them. Or maybe its just my wish-full idealistic vision.

  23. B. Macon 04 Jun 2010 at 6:57 pm

    Violent reality TV becoming a mainstream hit? It doesn’t strike me as particularly plausible. Ignoring the geeky network censorship issues, I don’t think that many people like watching total, no-holds-barred combat*.

    For example, here in the US, the record for UFC is 5.7 million Americans. There are some people that like dogfighting, but there’s no conceivable way you could get even 10 million Americans to watch it.

    We’re talking about really, really small numbers of people that like watching anything approaching real, stabby violence. I anticipate that the audience for this product would be guys that think UFC isn’t hardcore enough. But UFC itself peaked at less than 6 million Americans. So we’re talking about less, probably drastically less, than 1/50 of the population being open to watching real fighting.

    I checked around on major TV markets (US, UK, Brazil, India, China, etc) and I’m having trouble finding any highly violent sports that crack 1% of the population on a given basis. And, realistically, there is no conceivable way the Chinese government would sign off on broadcasting entertainment featuring vigilantes solving problems with violence.

    Now, like I said, I think it’s semi-plausible in a sort of sci-fi story that the masses get hooked on super-violent fare. (See The Running Man or Battle Royale or Untraceable, for example). But I don’t think it’s remotely realistic. Times have changed considerably since the days of the Roman Colieseum. The good news for your book is that plausibility is far more important than realism. If readers can believe it, or at least suspend their disbelief, it doesn’t matter whether it’s realistic.

    Unless you’re writing nonfiction, heh heh.

  24. Herojockon 05 Jun 2010 at 9:31 am

    No no I agree, I typed that message when I was pretty sleepy ha. But in seriousness the Superhero won’t be recording his violent clashes with his enemies. I don’t know what country you are in, but we have a programme in the U.K called Panorama on the BBC and its very successful. It’s a documentary programme where investigative journalists tackle a single issue every week. They go undercover a lot of times and delve deep into the heart of the topic.

    On the other hand the villain will copycat his methods but instead cater to the underground market. I like the idea of the general public blaming the Superhero for causing this. I want the hero to become the victim of his success and stardom.

    Plus his love of film making presents great opportunities. Admittedly his able to fly and resist radiation from space and is pretty durable. Anyway he uses his camera to film space and unexplored regions on earth. He sells this to various tv channels. His literately taking humanity where it can’t currently go 😛 A new era of nature documentaries has begun.

    I thought this will be a perfect way his jobs allows him to encounter various threats to earth. In the jungle, in the desert or even in space!

  25. The Doctoron 16 Aug 2010 at 10:53 am

    Yeah, I was going to try and have a student who use to be an average A-B grade at school. But when his mother has a nasty siezure, he stops caring for school grades and does what he can for her when her aide isn’t working.

    Back at school, he struggles with it and usually gets D- and below. I was planning for a potential love interest to come and help him with his work.

    I just got this idea so it might sound alittle crazy and stuff.

  26. Meelaon 07 Sep 2010 at 8:47 pm

    This may sound dumb, but I don’t care cause mine is a comedy, but does owning your own Mini-putt count :/

  27. B. Macon 07 Sep 2010 at 9:05 pm

    It may be hard to tie directly into the plot (i.e. stopping the villain or whatever), but I think owning a miniature golf course sounds interesting. Sort of like managing a McDonald’s, I think it has a lot of comedic potential.

    It’s unusual, but doesn’t strike me as dumb. More whimsical than the average job as a journalist or scientist, yes. However, if it fits the mood of the story, I don’t think that’s a problem.

  28. Contra Gloveon 21 Sep 2010 at 7:59 am

    I’ve noticed something: while many of the DC and Marvel superheroes are adults with jobs, most anime and manga superheroes are youngsters who attend school.

    Overall, I think that an adult protagonist is better than a teenage protagonist because while schoolkids are limited in how much they can experience the world, adults are able to go out and about on a whim, interacting with everyone from co-workers to store clerks to cops, etc. This is especially true in alternate history and fictional universes, as it allows the writer to introduce the setting’s details to the reader without infodumping.

  29. B. Macon 21 Sep 2010 at 11:03 am

    Yeah, there’s probably something to that, Contra Glove. A lot of anime/manga superheroes are students. Just as a matter of personal fancy, I prefer adult characters because I feel that most schools are cesspools for cliches. For every interesting school like Hogwarts or Xavier’s academy or the one in Mean Girls, there are a hundred schools where the only students seem to be The Likable-but-Unpopular Protagonist, The Bully, The Love Interest, The Nerd, etc.*

    I don’t feel that adult characters fit into such archetypes as tightly nor as often.

    Just because characters are younger than 18 doesn’t mean they can’t have personalities. 😉

    *And, at the risk of gravely offending any junior high students reading this, that may be based on reality. I think my life has gotten vastly more interesting since high school because I have more options, more capability, more responsibility, less sobriety, etc. There are only so many ways to be a student, but I think adults (even college students) can put much more of an individual stamp on their lives.

    One way that some superhero series have been getting around this recently is to let the student have a super-competitive job or internship on the side, one a high school student wouldn’t be able to get in real life. For example, different versions of Peter Parker have interned for a leading biochemist and a major New York newspaper as a high school student. The stakes are higher than just working for (say) a random student newspaper, I think. Similarly, it’d probably be a lot more interesting working for New York’s mayor than as the student body president, Assassination of a High School President notwithstanding.

  30. Contra Gloveon 21 Sep 2010 at 11:43 am

    Also, I’ve noticed that the protagonists of most anime and manga that really hit it big are young but not functionally different from real-world adults:

    In One Piece Luffy is going on an adventure with a crew. As far as I know, they do not have any kind of outside aid; they have to acquire their own supplies.

    In Dragon Ball Z, the main character Goku is an adult with a family. For most of the series, his son Gohan did not attend school, making do with private tutoring. He also fought the various alien and robotic menaces alongside his father. Also, in the preceding series Dragon Ball, Goku himself did not attend school.

    In Naruto, the story begins with the titular character graduating from school. Despite being a teenager, he is essentially a man in the eyes of his society; he lives on his own and he has a job (as a ninja in Leaf Village’s security forces.)

    I’d say that Sailor Moon and the Pretty Cure series are the only major exceptions I can think of.

  31. B. Macon 21 Sep 2010 at 3:40 pm

    The protagonist of Bleach starts out as a student. I’m not sure what happens when he takes on the mystical guardian position, though.

    The protagonist of Inuyasha starts out as a student and somehow maintains that despite all of the supernatural strangeness that befalls her.

  32. Contra Gloveon 21 Sep 2010 at 5:38 pm

    Point taken, so I guess there’s no correlation between the success of an anime/manga and the social standing of the protagonist (I would have said “age,” but situations like the ones in Naruto complicate that.)

    My initial point still stands, though. One can get more mileage out of adult protagonists than teenage protagonists, especially if the teenager has to attend school.

  33. JennyAnnon 29 Oct 2010 at 11:14 am

    Any thoughts on a super-powered protagonist whose alter-ego/day job is technical support for other heroes?

  34. B. Macon 29 Oct 2010 at 7:01 pm

    JennyAnn, this would be a main character, right? What sort of plot would put this logistical assistant front and center? One possibility would be that unusual circumstances force him to take on a role much more like a hero than he’s used to (and/or, probably, than he wants).

    Alternately, if the character remains as a tech support character for most of the story, I would recommend giving him a central goal to help orient the story. According to the editors at Strange Horizons, one recurring problem about tech support characters is that they feature in aimless stories where wacky stuff just sort happens without much point. Some plot possibilities that come to mind that would make the tech support character central:

    –For whatever reason, the tech support character is targeted for death by a villain.

    –A dangerous mission is unfolding where the heroes need advanced technical help in person. (For example, if an 100-foot robot or a boron bomb are about to destroy a city, it might be preferable to have the technical guy actually in the line of fire rather than have him describe what needs to be done over a telephone to one of the other superheroes).

    –The story is about superheroes, but not mainly about superhero action. The main conflict is the tech support character fighting for respect against superheroes that are more impressed by who could rip the 100-foot robot apart. This could have a romantic angle pretty easily: perhaps the tech support character and one of the more disrespectful heroes are romantic rivals, or perhaps the tech support character is trying to date a superhero or heroine but it’d be like the head cheerleader dating the treasurer of the math team. (Even if she did love him, there might be social pressure to not date an alleged loser).

    What did you have in mind?

  35. JennyAnnon 21 Nov 2010 at 1:40 am

    I was thinking about making my tech support be sort of a clean up crew for the heroes. I’ve got one plot where it’s actually a villain who has two supervillain parents who harassed them into doing evil, where they’re half-hearted about the evil and creates the security system for heroes as a lark. The plot comes from the struggle they have keeping their good guy identity secret from the villains and villain activities secret from the heroes.

    Another possible idea was for the tech to be hugely unimpressed by the heroes, with the majority of the heroes being DC-esques. One of their parents was the butler figure of an earlier hero, so they’ve been around them their whole life. In that case, I’d probably make them the narrator of the story, but the action is the standard heroes. Sort of an everyman smacking the back of Captain Savior’s head when he keeps hitting the self-destruct instead of the power button, then figuring out that the ‘weapon’ Queen Victorious destroyed earlier was actually a cappuccino machine. A figure usually forgotten until the big climax when a hero goes to dismantle a bomb by cutting the red wire and they’re all blue. (I figure it’s a chance to poke fun at all the superhero stereotypes.)

  36. Contra Gloveon 05 Dec 2010 at 11:52 am

    I figured out a good way to use a teenaged hero without resorting to school: set the story during summer break. It’s what I’m doing right now, and it has worked out well for me. I imagine that this is only applicable in America, though, since from what I’ve heard, other countries’ summer breaks are far shorter than three months.

  37. B. Macon 05 Dec 2010 at 12:20 pm

    Summer break sounds good…

    Here are some other ways to get around school in the story.
    –There’s school going on in the background, but almost no scenes take place there.

    –The character is of school age, but is in a work-study program so that he spends more time at a job than school.

    –If the character is, I think, 17 or 18, he can be in the military rather than school. (Depending on circumstances, maybe younger than 17–for example, some 15 or 16 year olds lied their way into the military during WWI and WWII).

    –If the character is an orphan or a runaway or otherwise on the fringes of society, he may be dodging school.

  38. Contra Gloveon 05 Dec 2010 at 3:02 pm

    My heroine is actually part of my fictional world’s equivalent of the Girl Scouts, though it’s politicized in the manner of the Hitler Youth or Komsomol (no girls are required to join, though.)

    Is anyone here familiar with what Girl Scouts typically do, whether during the summer or during the school year?

  39. Sean Higginson 05 Dec 2010 at 6:54 pm

    I can maybe do some more research in a bit of time but my daughter is getting ready to attend Girl Scouts for the first time. But from years ago when my sister participated, generally Girl Scouts have regular meetings (anywhere from weekly to monthly) which tend to be mother-daughter groups. They work on badges (similar to Boy Scouts) which involve being taught certain practices and hobbies (i.e. camping, cooking, sewing, ect.). It’s basic principals taught by volunteers, often relatives of troup members. During the summer (and occasionally on weekends during the school year) most troops will participate in at least one week long camping trip.

  40. Contra Gloveon 05 Dec 2010 at 7:55 pm

    @ Sean Higgins

    The little info you just gave me proved really helpful. Now I know what information to look for and how to continue my story’s plot.

  41. Ryanon 14 Feb 2011 at 2:38 pm

    How do you portray, or rather, what’s plausible in terms of jobs when a protagonist cannot work or be in public.

    For instance, a Jewish person during the Holocaust, Evy in V for Vendetta, or a public hero that needs to make money and lay low.

  42. B. Macon 14 Feb 2011 at 8:16 pm

    Perhaps he has a fake identity and is able to work that way?

    Alternately, a Jew in the Holocaust might be able to work at a job that the Nazis have set aside for Jews (probably because it’s too dangerous, dirty or otherwise undesirable for Germans).

    Alternately, if the character cannot be in public because the bad guys would immediately kill him, perhaps he’s working the black market or doing something else illegal. If the character already has a death sentence hanging over him, there’s not much incentive to get a legal job.

    If it’s just a case of a superhero needing to make money but was really concerned about laying low, I think any job that kept bad records would work well. Preferably something mobile, in case his enemies found out. For example, I imagine being a roaming salesperson would work pretty well.

    Depending on how tough he is, he might be able to work as a day laborer or quarry miner. These positions are frequently filled by illegal immigrants, so the records tend to be rather bad. (Bad records will make it harder for a villain and/or the police to follow the hero’s tracks).

  43. ealperinon 23 Mar 2011 at 9:29 am

    As stated previously, my superheroine’s “day job” is as an A.M. coroner. (I ove the C.S.I. Series, but I want her to be more of a profiler/criminal coroner. Sort of like what you see now on C.S.I.: NY or Criminal Minds. Any help would be nice. Btw, I’ve read Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta book series. Amazing job,there. I want to do something similar but in the line of a Superheroine “criminal coroner profiler”-If there is such a thing.)

  44. Silvercaton 21 Apr 2011 at 8:52 am

    What do you think of rich idiots with no day job? I’m in the middle of trying to make my main character more Bill Gates than Bruce Wayne, in that, instead of being born into money, he started a company with some friends (I have no idea what the company *does* at the moment…), made it big, and now doesn’t have to work (he does a lot of charity stuff, including volunteering at the pound). I don’t really want to give him a normal job because, well, how do you work full-time and go out all night? And

    His son, who is going to end up being a support position, is in college (I think) and does computer work.

  45. cool don 21 Apr 2011 at 9:14 am

    It’s all right except you don’t want a copy cat of Bruce as in using the money to buy ridiculously expensive crime fighting gadgets. I think you should be all right.

  46. B. Macon 21 Apr 2011 at 10:12 am

    “What do you think of rich idiots with no day job?” Personally, I’m a bit more interested by superheroes that have to at least go through the motions of maintaining a regular life (whether that’s a day job, school, or whatever).

    “I don’t really want to give him a normal job because, well, how do you work full-time and go out all night?” It’s a challenging obstacle, which is why I find it interesting. (That, and I think it helps keep the character more relatable than he’d otherwise be). That said, if you wanted a job that presented less of an obstacle, you could give him something with a really flexible schedule.

    If you do go with a rich guy without a day job, I think it would really help to distinguish him from Batman/Bruce Wayne. (BW is the CEO of his company, but most versions of the character aren’t shown as particularly involved on a day-to-day basis there).

  47. Grandpaloveon 13 Jun 2011 at 4:54 pm

    I have a superotagonist that I’ve been working on, and I wanted him to be the son of a very wealthy man (he owns a company that supplies raw materials to industries). I’m worried that if I do that, people won’t care for him because of his family’s wealth. How should I avoid this? I’m thinking using a variation of the “trying to fit in” idea, i.e.: People are antsy around him because of his father’s status (think of the “honorable grandson” in Naruto).
    Also, should I put him in regular school, or a private school or tutoring? Would people have trouble relating to those?
    (I don’t know if this really relates to the topic of the article)
    Also, this is rather unrelated, but what do you think of having a universe with an already established hero who is starting to wear down? He isn’t the he isn’t the main character, but he’s well known and looked up to by citizens (like superman).

  48. B. Macon 13 Jun 2011 at 5:12 pm

    “Also, should I put him in regular school, or a private school or tutoring? Would people have trouble relating to those?” I think it depends on the story you’re trying to tell. Public school would probably be more relatable but I think you could tell an interesting story at private school if you wanted. (Tutoring, maybe less so–I think there’s less potential for conflict if the tutor is working for the family rather than the student going to a school that isn’t entirely beholden to the father).

    I think it would really help to develop his personality. For example, Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne are both rich guys, but they have personalities besides being rich.

    I like the idea of age wearing down on a superhero. It’s an approach I haven’t seen very often.

  49. The Catwoman Riddleron 19 Jun 2011 at 12:18 pm

    How about one who is unemployed? Then, they not only have conflict with supervillains and criminals, but also have to deal with pressure from the \real world\ to \be successful\.

  50. B. Macon 19 Jun 2011 at 1:07 pm

    That sounds interesting. If you’re doing a comic book, your target audience is probably in the age ranges of 18-30, and I think it’s a demographic that can probably relate to chronic unemployment. (I would guess that most everybody in that age-range at least knows somebody that is unemployed–in the United States, unemployment is higher than 50% among 16-24 year olds).

    That said, it might not fit into all stories as well. For example, Peter Parker has been fired and evicted before, but that doesn’t really make sense given how many multi-bajillionaire friends he has. For example, Tony Stark paid several million dollars to cover Aunt May’s health costs–why would he let Peter go homeless? Reed Richards owns a NYC skyscraper and could surely offer him a room, although I don’t think I’d be brave enough to take a room in the Baxter Building or over at Xavier’s place.

  51. ShyVioletson 05 Nov 2011 at 3:03 pm

    The teenage heros in my story attend a school where they learn to be hero’s and do all sorts of cool stuff with the main characters being part of a special group that investigates crimes. Is that okay instead of a job?

  52. ShyVioletson 05 Nov 2011 at 4:41 pm

    I think a school setting worked well for X-men but this school is a lot different and is much pickier about the caliber of student it allows in.

    all thoughts and suggestions are appreciated 🙂

  53. B. McKenzieon 05 Nov 2011 at 6:10 pm

    Normally, my main concern would be that the school should have some sort of personality. For example, Terry Pratchett’s Unseen University is absolutely oozing with style and wackiness of the most spectacular sort. Here are some excerpts from its Wikipedia page. (By the way, if your setting is so interesting that Wikipedia users are putting tens or hundreds of hours and thousands of words into describing it, you’re probably on the right track).

    “Wizards grade magical ability in a series of levels, the highest of which is eight. People without magical ability are “level zero.” It was the opinion of many tutors at the time Rincewind was a student that he had a level that was possibly negative, and that the overall magical potential of humanity would actually increase after his death.”

    “The Octavo is the Creator’s own grimoire and thus the most powerful book of magic on the Discworld… The Eight Great Spells are imprisoned on its pages, giving the book sentience. It somehow came into the possession of Unseen University, where it was stored in a little room off and under the University’s Library. Given the nature of the book, the room is full of precautions; not so much for the protection of the book as much as for the protection of its visitors.

    “While in his first year at the University, Rincewind tried to open the Octavo for a bet. Miraculously managing to bypass all safety measures, he succeeded; whereupon one of the Eight Great Spells leapt from the book and lodged itself into his mind. No wizard could coax it out. Unable to learn any other spells, which were afraid of sharing his head with one of the spells of the Octavo, Rincewind was dismissed from the University. Eventually, the Spell returned to the Octavo and Rincewind recited all eight Spells to prevent the Discworld’s imminent destruction. The book was subsequently swallowed by Rincewind’s Luggage, but it was spat out a few days later.

    “Archchancellor Ridcully… loves hunting, owns several crossbows and is much given to using the corridors of Unseen University as a shooting range… Since wizards’ favourite sports traditionally are things like Competitive Eating and Extreme Napping, other wizards find him very tiring. He is not stupid but finds it very difficult to deal with unexpected information, and generally ignores it until it goes away or becomes someone else’s problem. He holds the view that if someone is still trying to explain something to him after about two minutes, it must be worth listening to, and if they give up earlier, it was not worth bothering him with in the first place…”

    “Dinwiddie became the Bursar after the previous Bursar was killed trying to save the Library from destruction in Sourcery. Dinwiddie expected to spend the rest of his life quietly adding up rows of figures. Unfortunately, shortly after he became the Bursar, Mustrum Ridcully was appointed Archchancellor. The brashness of Ridcully’s personality wore away at the Bursar, a man whose idea of excitement was a soft-boiled egg, and Dr. Dinwiddie is now almost completely insane. He is kept functional, just, by experimental dosages of dried frog pills, though the effect is sometimes erratic. The pills are actuallyhallucinogens, the idea being that a proper dosage will cause him to hallucinate he is sane. An improper dose causes him to demonstrate symptoms of catatonia or disorganized schizophrenia, or cause him to believe he can fly. The last case is relatively easy to deal with; the other faculty members simply have to keep him from flying higher than the walls.”

    “The Librarian was transformed into an orang-utan in The Light Fantastic as the Octavo fired a beam of magic upwards. On discovering that being an orang-utan had certain advantages for a librarian – he can climb up to high shelves, for example – he refused to be transformed back into a human and has remained an orang-utan ever since. The other wizards have gradually become used to the situation, to the extent that, from Night Watch: ‘if someone ever reported that there was an orang-utan in the Library, the wizards would probably go and ask the Librarian if he’d seen it.’ Being an ape, he is known for his violent reaction to most people calling him a “monkey.” He speaks a language whose vocabulary consists primarily of the single word Ook (originally Oook), inflected for simple affirmations and negations. Eeek is also occasionally heard, particularly in moments of panic or rage. Nonetheless, most people seem able to understand him.”

    “The Librarian’s name has never been given in any of the books; he is always simply ‘the Librarian.’ If the Librarian’s true name were known, he could be changed back into a human, and he has since The Last Continent carefully excised his name from the records of the University. The Discworld Companion hints that he may once have been Dr. Horace Worblehat, which goes most of the way to explaining why he is happier as an orang-utan.”

    So, here are some questions about your school.

    1) If you had to describe it in a few sentences, what would you say?

    2) What are some things that distinguish the setting from other schools for people with superpowers? (For example, the Unseen University is developed enough that I could come up with several major ways it is distinct from Harry Potter’s Hogwarts, even though both are magical schools).

    3) I really like the idea that it’s selective. (In contrast, there are apparently only two qualifications to being at Xavier’s Academy, being a mutant and not being a homicidal psychopath, and I think they gave Wolverine a pass on the second). How does its selectivity affect the school? For example, are students under more pressure to succeed? How much harder are the classes? What are some of the difficult students are expected to learn and/or do?

    4) What are some of the most notable adults like? (E.g. instructors, principal/leader, ninja tutors, NASCAR-dropout-turned-driving-instructor, security personnel, etc). What sort of things do they do that conflict with the students? In particular, how is the leader of the school different than Xavier?

    5) Is there an in-story reason why they use kids rather than adults to solve crimes?

    6) What are some things that happen at your academy that wouldn’t happen at most other superpowered schools?

  54. ShyVioletson 05 Nov 2011 at 9:24 pm

    @ B. McKenzie

    1) The school is called ISIS (International School for the Inherently Skilled) The school is like a hybrid of a super elite private prep school (complete with uniforms) and a military boot camp. The academics are very demanding and the physical training is intense. The building is an old plantation style mansion and doubles as a home for the kids who bored their though many of the students live off site with their families.

    2) As super humans are an excepted part of the society the school doesn’t have to pretend to be anything other than a school for super heros in training. They won’t take students who have very passive powers unless they excel in other field (like math or science) and brainless jocks are not tolerated.

    3) Being very selective means that the school takes the most skilled young heros but not necessarily the ones with the most raw talent. The pressure to succeed is very high and those who struggle are often ostracized by those who come by success easily. The classes very in difficulty (ie. the lowest math class is algebra and the highest is some form of advanced calculous) but are all are taught at an AP level. Students are trained heavily in the use of their power because the schools goal is to make sure the next generation of heros is the best and the brightest.

    4) The staff isn’t terribly fleshed out yet but the principal/head mistress/dean lady is very strict and rarely shows a soft side or sense of humor. (I’m open to suggestions for interesting teachers)

    5)The general reason kids are used instead of adults is that their powers and/or skills are better suited for the job. They are supervised by adults because letting them run around alone would be irresponsible.

    6) I can’t think of any other schools where you have super villain attack drills and extreme survival train courses. P.E. class consists of running obstacle courses that would make a marine cringe and and playing freeze rag with freeze rays.

    On a side note ISIS has two rival schools. On functions a lot more like Xavier’s where they take just about any kid with powers and the other is like a reform school for troubled young super humans.


  55. B. McKenzieon 05 Nov 2011 at 11:02 pm

    –“I can’t think of any other schools where you have super villain attack drills and extreme survival training courses…” Well, I would think supervillain attack drills are pretty standard for an academy that’s training superheroes. However, the extreme survival training sounds pretty fresh. Most superheroes do most of their work in cities, so wilderness survival is distinct.

    –“The classes vary in difficulty (i.e. the lowest math class is algebra and the highest is some form of advanced calculus).” If you’d like a name for the higher classes besides something like Honors Calculus, you could try Advanced Algorithms, Analysis and Manifolds, Topics in Stochastic Processes, Discrete Mathematics, Nonlinear Dynamics and/or Combinatorial Analysis. (Why, yes, I did steal those from MIT’s course catalog).

    –What happens to the not-so-bright students that get rejected by the school? (Maybe there’s a less prestigious superhero academy that some of the students transfer to if they can’t cut it and there’s some bad blood between the schools*. Or maybe there are no academies for lesser students and they end up either becoming freelance superheroes on their own and/or get seduced by criminal organizations).

    *For example, some Notre Dame students chant “Backup College” when Boston College comes to play football. I’ve never been to a BC home game, but I’m guessing they have their own chants and jokes. (E.g. “OOOOO-VER-RATED,” “Mr. Delusional Irrational Irish Football Fan,” etc.

  56. ShyVioletson 06 Nov 2011 at 5:28 am

    I mentioned the two rival schools underneath 6. Students of these schools often view ISIS students as snobs and ISIS students tend to view other school #1 as a bunch of slackers and losers and other school #2 as a bunch of savage criminals.

    Do you have and suggestions for interesting and unusual teachers? So far I only have the principal and the the semi-crazy ex-hero with total distain for rules and regulations and a soft spot for the underdogs of the school.

    PS: thank you so much for your helpful comments 😀

  57. B. McKenzieon 06 Nov 2011 at 12:41 pm

    “I mentioned the two rival schools underneath 6. Students of these schools often view ISIS students as snobs and ISIS students tend to view other school #1 as a bunch of slackers and losers and other school #2 as a bunch of savage criminals.” Ah, good call! Sorry I missed that.

    One interesting combination that doesn’t come up as often as it does in real reality is tough-but-likable teachers. Far too often, authors have a hard teacher, but he’s hard because he’s “mean”* or he hates students. Very one-dimensional/cartoonish. Another possibility is that he’s hard as hell on his students because they’re training to be superheroes and because NOT learning it right will probably get someone killed (maybe them). Also, I think after the fact, many people come to appreciate their harder teachers more–I don’t think I can remember any of the “easy ‘A'” professors I had, but the ones I do remember were all very demanding. (Which is not to say that every hard teacher is likable, just that hard-and-unlikable is used so often in fiction that you’d have to execute the teacher really well to avoid coming off as a cliche).

    *Pet peeve: I find it hard to take anyone seriously that uses the word “mean” as an adjective, ESPECIALLY in a setting where lives are on the line. (E.g. if Jane thinks that a drill instructor can be “mean,” it is insane for her to try to join the Marines and she could never possibly have any chance at succeeding there and her teammates would probably push for her transfer someplace she can do less damage).

    Another possibility would be if the school brought in someone with a decidedly unusual background. I had a teacher, let’s say “Mr. Doe,” who worked as a trader at the Chicago Board of Trade. On the first day of class, he said something like “Yes, it is true that I became a teacher because three of my coworkers committed suicide on the same day. No, it is not true that I earned the nickname “Mad Dog” because I bit someone’s ear off in a pricing dispute. I barely broke the skin.”

  58. ShyVioletson 07 Nov 2011 at 5:44 am

    I like the idea of a hard but likable teacher. I can think of a few teachers at my high school that are like that.

    What about this: the female tactics instructor is very hard on her pupils but she is fair. She’s hard on them not because she is *”mean” but because a plan that is full of holes or easily foiled could lead to the injury/death of innocent people and her students lives my depend on coming up with decent **plans.

    As for interesting backgrounds, I’m thinking ex-Russian spy with a limp who now teaches deception detection and acting. He is now making up for years of living a covert quiet life by being as loud and rowdy as possible. He likes to throw thinks at student (to keep them on there toes) and bangs his cane on the desk of students that fall asleep(my sister had a teacher do that).

    *mean is and awful word to describe a person. Its incredibly generic and says nothing about them.

    **this could lead to her initially disliking my main character but coming to respect her intelligence and quick wits later on.

    As always suggestions are welcomed with open arms and cookie 🙂

  59. BMon 07 Nov 2011 at 1:21 pm

    “Mean” says more about the user than the recipient, particularly if the user is older than 12.

  60. ShyVioletson 07 Nov 2011 at 3:50 pm

    I personally haven’t used mean to describe a person in years because it sounds really childish and uneducated.

    Any suggestions or comments on the above mentioned teachers?

  61. Michael Richmanon 02 Dec 2011 at 10:04 pm

    Journalism, law enforcement and law are actually poor choices for a superhero’s day job because members of such professions generally have deadlines to meet and have to make reports about what they do during the day (law especially, ever here of billable hours?).

  62. B. McKenzieon 02 Dec 2011 at 10:42 pm

    From my own limited experience in journalism, I got the impression that a roving reporter would have a relatively easy time of doing superheroics on the side.

    1) Stories can be sent in remotely and somebody like Clark Kent can type quickly enough that he only needs a few minutes to finish a day’s worth of work.

    2) What few in-person commitments he has (like staff meetings) can probably be worked around during crises. For example, something like “Brainiac is hitting STAR Labs again! I’ll have the writeup by print-time, Chief.” Any editor that would rather have his star reporter in a newsroom meeting rather than covering the story of the day probably won’t be an editor for long.

    3) Even if a superhero didn’t work at Superman speed, he could prepare for sudden emergencies by having some major articles stashed in case he needs to take off of work for a while. E.g. he can say something like “I’m sorry I didn’t do that underwater mortgages piece you wanted, but I happen to have Lex Luthor confessing on tape. Can I get back to you on that mortgages piece?” If anybody finds out that he sat on a huge story for weeks (or maybe even months), he can claim that he needed to double-check his sources to make sure everything was legit and he didn’t want to get his editor’s hopes up until he knew for sure. (It totally makes sense that you’d want to be EXTRA careful about double-checking a story with Lex Luthor. Libeling a powerful businessman with a charge that turned out to be bogus would, at the very least, damage the newspaper’s reputation and might result in a massive lawsuit against the paper.

    As for law, I think a lot of superhero attorneys run their own law firm or are at least partners. The hero might need to deceive the other partners, but I assume that oversight of one partner would be much looser than what the average lawyer gunning for partner at Baker & McKenzie (yeahhhh Chicago) would get. However, let’s say the character IS a fairly low-ranking lawyer (e.g. a junior associate) and is expected to pull 60-80 hour weeks. Maybe he bills a lot of that as something nebulous like “field research.” As long as he comes up with major breakthroughs on a fairly regular basis–and I assume that being a superhero would give you a major edge in exonerating the innocent by finding out who is actually guilty*–I assume his bosses will cut him some slack on where exactly he was during all of those 60 hours. Also, it wouldn’t surprise me if he was seen as valuable because he’s unusually eager to do in-person work in extremely bad neighborhoods.

    *Unless, of course, the client actually is guilty. However, even if the client is guilty, a superhero might be able to get him a lesser sentence by finding evidence that shows the client’s role was more minor or more innocuous than it originally appeared. For example, maybe he was blackmailed into committing the crime or he had been told that the gun was firing blanks and he just wanted to scare the victim, but someone else set him up by putting real bullets in the gun or he played a minor role in the crime than someone else but can’t prove that without the superhero’s help, etc.

    Yeah, being a police officer moonlighting as a superhero would be damn tricky, unless the character had a regular 9-5 desk job (like guarding the evidence lockup) or maybe even a roving job without a partner (like doling out parking violations).

    If Officer Hernandez was a patrol officer and expected to respond to emergencies, I think it’d essentially require at the very least the acquiescence of his partner (Detective Doe) and, more likely, the active collaboration of his partner Detective Doe to falsify police reports and commit various other acts of fraud to hide what the superhero was doing at particular times. Hernandez could do a LOT of “canvassing the neighborhood” to explain why he’s not present at the crime scene, but it’d be precarious.

    Even something as mundane as another officer or a police informant noticing something weird (like “What’s Detective Doe doing without a partner in a neighborhood this dangerous?”) might lead to awkward questions. In such a case, Hernandez and/or Doe might have to make up some wild-eyed story so that his bosses only slap him on the wrist rather than hammer him. For example, maybe Doe claims he was secretly tailing his partner because he was worried Hernandez might be up to something shady. (But he didn’t want to go to Internal Affairs or the lieutenant until he was sure). Or maybe it’s sort of rumored that Hernandez is having a really hard time coping with some personal disaster (like the murder of his wife, parents, kids, yoga instructor, and/or dog that convinced him to become a superhero) and Doe was trying to help give him some time off when he needed a breather. (They can claim they didn’t explain what was going on to the lieutenant because Hernandez is a real tough guy and didn’t want anybody to know how hard the catastrophe was).

  63. Bad-Peopleon 07 Mar 2012 at 9:51 pm

    I made my character Vulcan into a scrap yard junker. Even though he’s named after a god, it’s the most blue-collar god in the entire pantheon, and that’s an aspect I wanted to convey. He’s a very down to earth and “human” character. It also just really fit with his powers and since it‘s a really small part of the story anyway it doesn‘t need to be high-stakes or glamorous. (Plus there’s the practicle bonus of, if a bad-guy attacks, what’s the harm?)

  64. Ellie_Rigbyon 06 Jun 2012 at 11:48 am

    I was wondering what sort of day job would an ancient superhero would be capable of having realistically? I was planning on having the character dating all the way back to the Hellenic period. And I figured it would be difficult to have a social security when there’s no way to explain your birth, and like what was said, I don’t want to go into that cliche inherited wealth bit. I was thinking working under the table jobs, opening up own business (from accumulated money/investments over time)?<– I keep on finding holes on the business idea though. And none of those things sound really cool to me like a journalist or detective, but I think someone without a legal status would have a hard time landing those jobs. Does anyone have any interesting ideas? And maybe even attending a university or even a community college by paying underhand just to get more social interaction for the story, but I'll have to look into more on how plausible that could be.

  65. B. McKenzieon 06 Jun 2012 at 3:45 pm

    “I was wondering what sort of day job would an ancient superhero would be capable of having realistically?” It depends on the story you wanted to tell. If you were interested in political intrigue, I’d recommend something high-class (e.g. a noble or someone else connected to political power). Soldiers might be another possibility–maybe he’s a scout that’s been assigned on an individual mission and has a lot of personal autonomy. Maybe he’s some sort of courier or personal servant handling delicate assignments without much oversight.

    I’m guessing a business would be somewhat plausible, especially if he has either a tremendously valuable skill (e.g. a doctor trained in Egypt) or a convincing cover story which explains why he’s not a local without raising too many questions (e.g. a respected local is willing to vouch that he’s an honorable citizen of another city-state or he has some other proof). I’m not sure about Greece in particular, but in ancient times generally, most communities were tightly-knit and outsiders were frequently regarded with suspicion.

    It’s not implausible that a city-state would be willing to offer him an honorarium for vanquishing a particularly fearsome foe. Maybe it wouldn’t be enough to live on, especially if the city-state is poor and/or he was not able to keep all of the money safe (because there wasn’t a reliable banking system), but it might help.

  66. Ellie_Rigbyon 06 Jun 2012 at 8:44 pm

    Oh okay thanks so much. Yes, there was a lot of challenges for an outsider coming into a foreign city-state. That is one of the challenges I would like the character to face. Having to deal with factors that would be held against her when dealing with a different civilization (e.g. gender, race, social status, and having to basically start anew each time). And I like the idea of building attachments that will be forced to be temporary (i.e a plague, war, and/or the spanning of time). And this might seem longwinded, but I wanted more importance on the stories/dramas of each place than an actual superhero-action story. Looks like I’m going to have to brush up on my history studies 🙂

    I’m new to this website, and I really appreciate how it’s really helped me to alter the character/storyline I ditched a long time ago for sounding a little like a “homo-superior”.

  67. Derp Writeron 18 Nov 2012 at 1:39 am

    Most of my questions on this site seem to be more about the villain than the hero in my stories, and this one is no different.

    One of my characters, the main villain in his story (well, the first of several, but the only one introduced in the book surrounding his interactions with the main character), is backed by the government as part of a secret group of experimental soldiers. His job is a sort of supernatural “Black Ops” type of work, but I had the idea of him having spies in the IRS who would use their jobs not only to find and gather information on certain targets, but also to kill them when he deemed it necessary.

    Can anyone tell me if this is a good idea or not?

  68. B. McKenzieon 18 Nov 2012 at 3:26 pm

    “I had the idea of him having spies in the IRS who would use their jobs not only to find and gather information on certain targets…” One alternate explanation here would just be that they hack the IRS and/or other databases as desired. Planting killer IRS agents might be a bit over the top (unless that’s intentional). If you go down that road, I’d recommend covering at least briefly how a super-soldier is going to blend in at the IRS (where badassery goes to die) without either raising suspicion and/or going crazy out of red-tape frustration/boredom.

  69. Derp Writeron 18 Nov 2012 at 4:58 pm

    I actually meant something more along the lines of the character in question having gotten quite a few people in the IRS to do these things for him as regular informants/killers either through coercion (because being able to cause a haunting in your home/workplace/etc. is pretty scary) or bribery.

    This might also be a good time for me to mention that the group that the character belongs to is fully backed/funded by the U.S. government.

  70. Derp Writeron 18 Nov 2012 at 5:10 pm

    I read your response thoroughly and then totally forgot that you were saying planting killer IRS agents was over the top. So my comment above is repetitive and useless with exception to the last sentence.

    To elaborate on that sentence, the group known as MK-ULTRA (in this story) was the joke of the military until it found out how to help people who already had signs of supernatural abilities enhance and control them. It then gathered six of these people together and founded the group called Legion (as an obvious reference to the Bible) and had them complete special missions to keep the U.S. at the top of the food chain. They got more funds because of their success and eventually Legion became a powerful resource at the disposal of every U.S. president since Carter.

    Many of the most important politicians in the U.S. were then either bought or coerced to back Legion with all of their ability.

  71. Dr. Vo Spaderon 18 Nov 2012 at 5:15 pm

    I’d be careful with the MK-ULTRA stuff, Derp.

  72. Derp Writeron 18 Nov 2012 at 6:46 pm

    @Dr. Vo Spader:
    Might I ask why? I hope this doesn’t sound rude, but I am curious.

  73. B. McKenzieon 18 Nov 2012 at 7:56 pm

    “Might I ask why [DVS would be careful with the MK-ULTRA stuff]?” A huge caveat here: I am not DVS, but I would speculate that DVS means that portraying U.S. military groups as criminal and/or anti-democratic and/or otherwise nefarious could cause marketing issues in a U.S. market which includes something like 65-70% of the world’s native English speakers. There may also be suspension of disbelief issues related to having IRS agents coerced or bribed into killing people and/or why MK-ULTRA would try coercing and/or bribing and/or traumatizing inexperienced killers into doing its wetwork rather than rely on more professional/reliable methods. (If IRS agents were actually useful in shooting situations, Gain would probably like his partner a lot better in The Taxman Must Die 😉 ).

  74. Dr. Vo Spaderon 18 Nov 2012 at 9:53 pm

    Exactly. Also, (a problem I recently ran in to) the story’s facts might end up contradicting reality, if you’re not careful.

  75. B. McKenzieon 19 Nov 2012 at 12:12 am

    If it’s fiction, I don’t think straying from reality is inherently a major problem. For example, it’d be a total non-issue if there are 50 Spider-Man readers out there that were concerned that Spider-Man couldn’t possibly hold enough webbing (or materials for generating webbing) to web around town like he does. However, believability may be a major concern if characters are making decisions (particularly major ones and/or ones central to the premise) which are really hard to explain. If I could make a reference to my own Taxman Must Die, a top-secret government agency uses an IRS agent as bait to catch a supervillain that was enraged by the IRS agent attempting to audit him. I think it’s a morally gray decision (e.g. they’re obviously putting an innocent IRS agent in further danger), but arguably rational (it may be their best chance of locating and stopping a villain that’s already killed 10+ people). So it’s a difficult decision, but the agency shouldn’t come across as stupidly evil.

    In contrast, I’m having a lot of trouble envisioning circumstances in which super-soldiers might plausibly decide that their best option was traumatizing civilians (e.g. IRS agents) into doing their kills. If you have an incredibly amoral government agency with access to supernatural powers (and, umm, complete confidence that no one involved will raise any questions about this brazenly felonious activity), it might be more believable to try brainwashing ACTUAL criminals into doing the job–if 2 or 3 convicted felons kill people, it probably wouldn’t prompt a federal investigation, whereas federal investigators would probably suspect something was amiss if several IRS agents with no known history of mental issues had murderous psychotic episodes (especially if any IRS agents survived and testified about what motivated them OR told anyone what they were experiencing before committing the murders). In particular, any federal investigators looking into this would probably notice certain alarming similarities among the victims targeted by the IRS agents. (3+ IRS agents go psycho and all independently target hardened criminals? What are the odds of that? Did the IRS agents even own guns and/or where/how/when did they acquire them, and from whom?)

  76. Derp Writeron 20 Nov 2012 at 1:39 pm

    I suppose I can see that being an issue, but I like to have villains that are only villains by way of opposing the main character, rather than being inherently evil. All of the members of Legion are nasty characters, but they aren’t really inclined to kill innocent people for no reason (i.e. They’d be more likely to keep a job where they have to kill specific people in specific ways and get paid to do it than they would be to go AWOL and do whatever they want and face punishment). My vision of MK-ULTRA in this story wasn’t as a malevolent force, so much as a group that has the means to go after high-priority targets in ways that other groups can’t (not because they aren’t capable to, but because they aren’t allowed to) and has no tolerance for the rule of engagement that they see as obstructive nonsense and uses its power/funding to make sure that they aren’t called out on breaking these rules.

    I’ll work on the IRS thing, but the reason I initially chose it was that it was an unassuming group that has access to a LOT of information about anyone in the U.S. coupled with the idea that the thoroughness of MK-ULTRA’s influence would be on par with Tyler Durden’s (Fight Club) so investigations wouldn’t take place in the first place.

    I hope this explains my choices so they sound less illogical.
    Thanks for the input, BTW. It really helps.

  77. YoungAuthoron 12 Jan 2013 at 12:52 pm

    In my story, the main characters are aspiring superheroes and they’re students. But I need jobs for their parents. For the dad, I was thinking a journalist or detective. For the mother, I was thinking of a doctor, but that seems like a hard job to get away from to do superhero stuff but it matches her character and a doctor separates her from other superheroes.

  78. no nameon 23 Jan 2013 at 6:07 pm

    what if the hero’s day job was with the villain, or someone the hero thought was the villain. Would that be too cheesy?

  79. B. McKenzieon 23 Jan 2013 at 7:29 pm

    “What if the hero’s day job was with the villain…” It’s been used heavily, but can be well executed.

  80. ColdWindon 23 Jan 2013 at 8:31 pm

    Depends on how close they are. If they see each other every five mins. then that would be awkward.

    and YA the doctor angle is interesting but how would she get away from work?

  81. Immieon 23 Jan 2013 at 10:24 pm

    I’ve written my hero as a full time substitute teacher. One of the personal plot lines is that she sees her superhero identity very separate to her daytime one.
    The way I link the jobs is by having her friend (who turns into the romantic interest) be the younger brother of the CEO she is investigating – thus destroying the compartments she created.
    Should I try and work with this idea or is it too established that the hero’s day job should have an investigative nature?

  82. Mr. Powerson 23 Jan 2013 at 11:08 pm

    About the doctor availability issue…

    I have a friend who is a doctor and works eleven 24-hour shifts in a month. The other 19 or 20 days, she’s twiddling her thumbs. On top of that, much of that 24-hour shift is idle downtime between appointments, emergency calls, and paperwork. Doctors can have an amazingly free schedule, and it could make for an interesting development to see how a doctor superhero juggles trying to save the day from a villainous plot all the while staying on-call and slipping back into the hospital in time to save the life of civilians.

  83. B. Barneson 27 Jan 2013 at 10:00 pm

    I haven’t taken the time to read every comment, but has anyone considered the music career? You have the stability of a small group of set characters, ample amount of opportunity for new characters to enter and exit the story quickly, new locations (almost anywhere you’d like to go). The basic storyline can be set and maintained very easily. I’m trying to develop a novel and/or comic book based on this very idea. Any ideas or constructive criticism would be greatly appreciated.

  84. Anonymouson 27 Jan 2013 at 11:16 pm

    @B. Barnes

    As a kid, I used to watch a television series called ‘Superhuman Samurai’. If I remember correctly, the protagonists were members of a rock band. But it was not a typical superhero series.

    Generally, I would like to see a superhero with musical career as it has not been done much. But the main problem would be to show how this career affects his superhero career. I think, a superhero’s day job should be such that it helps him indirectly with his superhero career. for example- scientist, engineer, reporter etc. I am struggling to give my hero a proper day job too. But I’m writing a comic book miniseries (3 issues), so I don’t have the space to focus on that either. But it is very important in ongoing series and novels.

  85. Nayanon 27 Jan 2013 at 11:19 pm

    The above comment was from me.

  86. B. McKenzieon 28 Jan 2013 at 7:04 am

    “Has anyone considered the music career? … The basic storyline can be set and maintained very easily.” I agree with Nayan that the hardest element would probably be to tie the superhero angle with the musical angle in some way (perhaps by having the day job either help or hinder* his superhero career). In Scott Pilgrim, the main threads of the story (Scott Pilgrim doing superpowered battle with evil exes, many of whom were musical competitors, and more generally the Scott-Ramona romance) tied in with his band quite nicely. But he’s definitely not a prototypical superhero.

    *At the simplest level, Spider-Man’s job as a courier/pizzaboy hindered his superheroics.

  87. Anonymouson 28 Jan 2013 at 12:52 pm

    In my novel, my team of teenaged superheroes mantains a cover as a rock band. I think this blends the music career nicely with superheroics.

  88. Atomic Geniuson 04 Mar 2013 at 3:25 am

    I’m actually having a hard time coming up with a day job for my character Kendrick Samson/Cryosis. I can’t decide between these three jobs:

    Mechanic-My story takes place in a mob infested city. This mechanic shop would be the number one shop in the city and it would also attract the attention of Gangsters, so if they need their car fixed then this is the place that they will go to.

    Waiter-Maybe mobsters like to come to this particular restaurant to eat & discuss illegal activity.

  89. B. McKenzieon 04 Mar 2013 at 8:37 am

    I think mechanical skills would be easier to incorporate into a superhero plot than waiting skills… also, the problems a mobster brings into a mechanic’s shop are probably more interesting than the ones he brings into a restaurant. (For one thing, a mechanic coerced into removing bullets and/or painting over bullet holes without telling the police is probably an accomplice to a crime, whereas someone serving food to a criminal is not).

  90. Atomic Geniuson 04 Mar 2013 at 9:40 am

    Thank you for the advice, it was really helpful. Do you have any articles about how to begin your story? Because my outline is pretty much done & now i want to start typing it out.

  91. B. McKenzieon 04 Mar 2013 at 4:58 pm

    Some articles you may find helpful:

    How to Introduce Interesting Characters
    How to Write a Great First Line
    Surviving To Page 2
    Recommendation: Start Your Story As Everything Goes Wrong

  92. Thalamuson 07 Oct 2013 at 12:15 pm

    Would a coroner make a decent job for the hero? It brings him into contact with the dead quite a lot, and thus he would know if there was a murder spree without being the first person to jump into people’s heads if they wondered how the hero knew about the murders.

  93. Thalamuson 08 Oct 2013 at 2:34 pm

    Any feedback? I would like some on this point, as it could impact the storyline significantly.

  94. Qwertyon 08 Oct 2013 at 6:46 pm


    I like that idea – it makes sense. However, I think that sort of job would greatly affect the kind of hero he would be. If he was dealing all the time with the dead victims AFTER a murder spree, it would probably give him a lot of incentive to spend more time on hero work by trying to PREVENT that sort of thing from happening in the future.

    Alternately, the coroner might make a good side character or informant for the real hero, who would get information from the coroner and use that to fight and prevent crime. They would make a good team.

  95. Thalamuson 10 Oct 2013 at 11:56 am

    Sorry, I’ve just realised I got the name of the job wrong – pathologist, not coroner. I meant the autopsy side of the thing, not the legal side. Thanks for the feedback, Qwerty.

  96. JPon 15 Dec 2013 at 11:12 pm

    How about the superhero being a problem-solver-for-hire, like the A-Team, or a private investigator?

  97. Gabriel Nightshadeon 25 Feb 2014 at 11:51 am

    Okay, so i’m writing a book about a British mutant and his mutant friends that moved to american safe haven to train, but i cant think of anything for him to do ’cause he’s 17, doesn’t have a job and is in a band with his friends and the school is full of mutants AND humans.

  98. B. McKenzieon 25 Feb 2014 at 9:51 pm

    If he moved to a school to train, it sounds like he’ll have a lot going on already. If you feel like he NEEDS a side-job besides just being a student, maybe he’d take on a random entry-level job (e.g. a cashier at a restaurant or retail store).

  99. Gabriel Nightshadeon 26 Feb 2014 at 7:22 am

    The family he’s living with is ungodly over-protective because they know he is a mutant and don’t want him to be found and killed so they don’t let him leave unless he’s going to school. The “Huntsmen” that are hunting him are everywhere waiting to capture him. So he can’t get a job but he NEEDS to do something so he looks like a normal kid. And he can’t really train in the school because of the humans there that don’t know about his kind.

  100. B. McKenzieon 26 Feb 2014 at 7:44 am

    He could lie to them and say that he’s going to a job but actually go off with other mutants to train somewhere without any witnesses (he’s in the U.S., so maybe off-trail in a forest preserve, an abandoned warehouse/factory, or a soccer stadium). Alternately, the mutants may train on the property of someone they trust (maybe a farmer). For security purposes, I think it’d be smart for him to claim it’s a job at a store where his U.S. host parents would never go themselves (e.g. a game shop or a soccer stadium), but I’m guessing his family will figure it out eventually. (In fiction, pretty much every lie falls apart eventually — lying wouldn’t be dramatic otherwise).

    Faking a job or taking a job that is highly mobile (e.g. a courier if he’s near a city) could give him a lot of time away from home he could use for training. “So he can’t get a job but he NEEDS to do something so he looks like a normal kid.” I think it’d be okay if he takes on a job, but this rationale and/or cover story isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. (In the U.S., most 17 year olds don’t have a job during the school year). I think his overprotective host family may grow concerned/suspicious that he’s spending too much time at “work” and not enough time on schoolwork. At school, other people may start to notice that he and/or his friends work an unusual amount outside of school (which is probably more interesting than if they were doing something completely ordinary/safe and no one figured out anything was amiss).

    (If we’re being really technical, a U.K. student on a secondary school student visa isn’t actually authorized to take a part-time or full-time job in the U.S. If the parents learn that, you could use that to tip them off that the character has been lying about his supposed job).

  101. Gabriel Nightshadeon 26 Feb 2014 at 11:04 am

    Thank you. This is helping me quite a bit. I’m kinda new at writing books so I need as much help as I can get

  102. Gabriel Nightshadeon 27 Feb 2014 at 7:28 am

    Okay, so I have an idea for the training: some teachers in the school are mutants and one, the German teacher, has mind manipulation so they (the mutant students) can go to his room for training and he can put wards on the room to keep the humans away

  103. B. McKenzieon 28 Feb 2014 at 11:45 pm

    Okay, wards would work… However, a teacher’s office might not be the best place for every mutant to practice, though. For example, if you were helping someone learn how to master fire or pass through walls, they might need alternate venues. In particular, anything that could wreck the teacher’s office, they should probably be exploring the space outside somewhere.

  104. Justin:Pon 15 Jul 2014 at 8:15 pm

    I was thinking what about someone fresh out of high school interning at a News Channel. That would give the superhero a good resource or events and rimes taking place. And being an intern instead of an employee means they would be able to jet out so to speak lol whenever they needed to.

    Open to thoughts and criticisms on this because i wanted to do it for my superhero.

  105. Melissaon 19 Sep 2014 at 3:52 pm

    I was thinking about making my superhero a telemarketer. She could call people during the day from her apartment while looking at cases. Multitasking at its finest I hope.

  106. B. McKenzieon 19 Sep 2014 at 8:41 pm

    A superhero telemarketer… It sounds highly anonymous, which I think is a plus, but working it into the central plot would likely take more creativity/effort than a more typical job (e.g. journalist/lawyer/scientist/playboy). For example, The Incredibles had a few scenes with Bob’s job handling insurance claims, which was very useful for showing how much trouble Bob (a former superhero) was having adjusting back into civilian life, but the job itself didn’t play a role in the character’s superheroics (whereas Clark Kent’s journalistic work often involves investigating major criminals).

  107. Melissaon 20 Sep 2014 at 12:26 pm

    I originally have her being a business executive at her father’s company, and an event happens and she withdraws from her family and friends. It changes her so much that she starts seeing things differently, but at the same time she realizes she needs to make an income after finding a new residence. I feel like the “normal” superhero jobs have been done to death, and I wouldn’t know how to add anything new to them. Do you know of any other occupations I could look into?

  108. J.Croweon 16 Dec 2014 at 10:17 pm

    In the story I’m currently writing, one of the two Superheroes is a college student who has an internship with the CBI (colorado beaureu of investigation. Its real. Trust me). That way he has access to information on the types of criminals he goes after (Drug Dealers, human traffickers, urban terrorists, etc.)

    The other Superhero, while starting out as a biohacker/college student, will become employed by a technology and defensive weaponry corperation, to be developped further as a “police officer of the future”, sort of like a non-leathal Judge (because having the government allow superheroes to be judge/jurry/executioner this early in their existance is kinda improbable). He gets his info first from police scanners (with the radio implant in his ear), and later through the corperation and police scanners.

    One of the two villain protagonists is a co-creator of the previous hero, so he and his friends kinda got full ride payment for any school of their choice from the corperation, as well as a lump sum of cash (thanks in part to said superhero, who convinced the corperation to do so in exchange for him coming to work with them).

    And the second villain protagonist is the owner of said corperation. So, he’s kinda got it covered.

  109. Tyleenia Tayloron 06 Mar 2016 at 3:32 pm

    So, BM, what if I write a story where the boss is a ‘laid low’ mob boss or somethin’ as well as a boss of a company that the hero works for. The hero would have to stop the boss, but still stay secret!

  110. Amanda Son 11 Apr 2016 at 3:51 pm

    I’d like to write about a wheelchair user being a Batman-style non-powered (well, gadget-powered) hero, and I was thinking about having him be a personal trainer, but that would make it extremely hard for him to hide his identity. Would that be a good thing, story-wise, or should I go with something traditional, like lawyer or something police-adjacent?

  111. B. McKenzieon 11 Apr 2016 at 5:52 pm

    “I was thinking about having him be a personal trainer, but that would make it extremely hard for him to hide his identity.” Being in a wheelchair would probably raise bigger issues for the secret identity*. Unless he doesn’t actually need the wheelchair and he’s really living the disguise.

    I feel like making him a lawyer would probably sound uncomfortably similar to Daredevil. (Barring something like a parody angle).

    *Something like .2% of Americans are wheelchair users younger than 50. If you factor out serious medical conditions that would rule out combat proficiency (e.g. muscular disorders), maybe a few hundred candidates in a huge city. If the police and/or well-equipped criminals are struggling to solve this one, I think the most plausible explanations would be 1) mind control or other relevant superpowers, 2) a spirited sabotage campaign from A LOT of sympathetic police and/or citizens, and/or 3) a lot of people know/suspect but nobody is talking (i.e. an FDR-style conspiracy of silence — supposedly even some of his own family members didn’t know he used a wheelchair, and generally the media didn’t talk about it much)…

    Have you considered going without a secret identity on this one, or giving the character superpowers that would make a secret identity more plausible?

  112. the mighty hectoclopson 16 Apr 2016 at 12:24 pm

    I honestly cant think of a day job for my character. his power is being able to shift his weight around so that he can put more momentum into a punch, move faster, jump farther, cling on to walls and ceilings, etc. His origin does not have to do with his job, and i want to use something that would have him in convenient places, but i dont want to use a journalist or private investigator. what should i use?

  113. B. McKenzieon 17 Apr 2016 at 6:44 am

    “i want to use something that would have him in convenient places, but i dont want to use a journalist or private investigator.” I don’t know much about your plot, or what feel you’re going for, or which “convenient places” you’d need to have him in, but some jobs that are highly mobile include couriers, deliverymen, and cab drivers. Also, anyone who needs to work with a lot of businesses (e.g. health inspectors, exterminators, locksmiths, anything utility-related, and critics).

  114. the mighty hectoclopson 17 Apr 2016 at 8:32 am

    Maybe a construction worker?

  115. the mighty hectoclopson 17 Apr 2016 at 8:37 am


  116. the mighty hectoclopson 17 Apr 2016 at 3:21 pm

    i’ve decided that he works in a 3d printing company that is him and one other person. he can easily slip out because of that. and its in an office building downtown. thanks for the help.

  117. Compellingon 19 Apr 2016 at 5:24 am

    My main character is a superhero who has decided to use his powers to start a revolution.

    What possible day job could he have?

  118. CBurnson 04 Jun 2016 at 9:11 am

    I’m surprised no one has brought this up in the comments section (as far as I saw) but what about a different civil servant, like a firefighter? They work 24 on, 24 off, which could be a source of conflict of something comes up during the hero’s 24 on shift, they have access to potential arson scenes, and they have a chance to be a hero without punching people, which would be a relief to my character, who would rather leave that part of the job to other heroes who are less likely to accidentally take someone’s head off with their powers. What do you think?

  119. B. McKenzieon 04 Jun 2016 at 4:17 pm

    “They work 24 on, 24 off, which could be a source of conflict of something comes up during the hero’s 24 on shift, they have access to potential arson scenes…” And probably many supervillain-related crime scenes. Even if a fire weren’t involved, structural damage might cause the fire department might send someone in to investigate whether the building is safe moving forward. Also, on facilities containing volatile chemicals (e.g. mad scientist labs), it’s possible the police might ask the FD for some sort of help. Also, maybe the FD would be involved in or bomb threat situations or possibly notified of police action where fires were likely (e.g. a raid against a fire-based enemy or someone that’s been known to use explosives).

    For semi-legitimate companies like LexCorp, I’m guessing local ordinances might also require companies with potentially explosive chemicals on-site to provide various information to the fire department (e.g. information about which potentially explosive chemicals are present and where, floorplans, FD access to conduct regular inspections of sprinkler/fire suppression systems, etc.), and I’d imagine that a fire inspector would have an easier time getting on-site without a warrant than a police officer would.

    For completely illegitimate operations (e.g. a mad scientist), the FD might be looped in on the theft or sale/supply of potentially explosive chemicals.

  120. CBurnson 05 Jun 2016 at 8:55 am

    @B. McKenzie, thanks much. Are there any particular challenges or issues with it? For example, I didn’t want to do a journalist because, as a Flying Brick-type hero, I didn’t want too many parallels to Superman and other similar heroes. What sort of roadblocks might I or my hero encounter if he does become a firefighter?

  121. B. McKenzieon 19 Jun 2016 at 8:40 am

    “What sort of roadblocks might I or my hero encounter if he does become a firefighter?”

    1) The most obvious one that comes to mind is that his ability to sneak away during work hours is going to be very limited (especially in a city department, where they’re more likely to have fires to attend to on a given day than a small department would). And they have large teams. So whereas a cop/superhero might be able to cut work by letting one partner in on what’s happening, a fireman would either need to get very creative and/or take the huge risk of letting several people know what’s going on.

    2) More promising: Most superheroes don’t think much about whether being a superhero is the most valuable use of their time/effort, because very few of them have day-jobs that involve saving lives. In contrast, being a firefighter does involve saving a lot of lives, is highly dangerous, and high-status, and would naturally conflict a lot with the logistics of being a superhero. When his superheroic life hits a low-point, he could plausibly have second thoughts about his superheroics.

    3) For whatever reason, the fire department might be reluctant to put him on criminal cases (maybe because he’s relatively new and/or doesn’t have the right temperament or something).

    4) Physical and/or mental exhaustion. He’s getting much less recuperation time / rest than anyone else in the department.

    5) A physically demanding job will make it harder to hide injuries from coworkers and could aggravate wounds that haven’t had time to fully heal.

  122. Alexon 19 Jul 2016 at 2:17 pm

    How about if I wanted to have my character be a comic book professional or a cartoonist by day, and then goes out to fight crime as a vigilante by night to get ideas and inspiration for his comic?

  123. B. McKenzieon 20 Jul 2016 at 1:59 am

    “How about if I wanted to have my character be a comic book professional or a cartoonist by day…” Personally, this setup wouldn’t excite me very much. I anticipate it’d be very hard to work into a central plot and would tend to make the character’s vigilante work feel less special. Also, would any of the people he interacts with as a comic book professional have any impact on the central plot?

  124. Alexon 20 Jul 2016 at 11:18 am

    Ok, so if that idea won’t work, which other occupations would you suggest that could generate more excitement from readers?

  125. Alexon 20 Jul 2016 at 1:44 pm

    So if the cartoonist day job is not such a good idea, which other jobs should my hero have that could generate more excitement? My worry is rehashing old chestnuts like being a newsroom guy or a playboy billionaire. My problem really is just wanting my character to be totally different.

  126. B. McKenzieon 20 Jul 2016 at 3:32 pm

    Some possibilities for creative types that I think would be easier to work into a central plot but still very different than what we’ve seen with the classic journalist archetype:

    –Guerrilla journalist
    –Disgraced and/or disgruntled journalist or ex-journalist.
    –Police sketch artist and/or courtroom illustrator
    –Industrial designer (e.g. someone that’s built a MacGuffin other people badly want, or someone struggling to).
    –A fixer of some sort
    –A mercenary journalist highly paid to work at an organization he despises (e.g. a liberal at Fox, a conservative anywhere else, an American at Russia Today, or a genius at Newsweek).

  127. young grasshopperon 25 Jul 2016 at 4:38 pm

    another thing that you could do is make fighting crime a job for your characters. My MC gets paid rewards for taking down and bringing in certain criminals, and he posts videos of himself fighting crime, so he also makes money off of advertisements and from selling his own merchandise online.

  128. WCTon 13 Feb 2017 at 1:09 pm

    What do you think of antiques investigator and saleswoman? The character I’m writing battles demons, monsters, and other paranormal instances, but doesn’t really have any superpowers beyond a hefty crossbow and a single magical artifact. So she mostly draws on the powers of historical acumen and rational thinking. Her day job, thus, provides ample opportunity to figure out the monster of the week via cross-referencing old documents with scraps of what she or the news discovers, and flexible hours to excuse her investigations.

  129. B. McKenzieon 13 Feb 2017 at 5:13 pm

    “What do you think of antiques investigator and saleswoman?” I like it. The investigator angle is conventionally very useful, and generally investigator jobs are easy to work into the plot though I don’t know what sort of antiques she’s looking at. E.g. Wonder Woman works with a lot of antiquities of extraordinary value and/or magical properties and sometimes assists on criminal cases. Interactions with clients might also be interesting. (I find that relations between clients and private investigators generally give more room for interesting character-development than cop-victim relationships).

  130. Bat Wayneon 21 Oct 2019 at 4:13 pm

    I have a character that teaches history at the local high school. History because he’s immune to death of natural causes and was around for WWI. Would that work?

  131. B. McKenzieon 21 Oct 2019 at 4:28 pm

    “I have a character that teaches history at the local high school. History because he’s immune to death of natural causes and was around for WWI. Would that work?” If he’s just a side-character and it’s the students that matter more, okay.

    If he’s the main character, I’d suggest thinking about surrounding him with people that give him better opportunities for interesting scenes and/or advancing his role in the plot. I don’t know anything about the plot, so I’m not much help there, but off the top of my head, my instinct is that higher-stakes and/or non-mundane feel more intuitive given his extraordinary background. (Like a pawnshop, a museum, a 20% crazy university, a 80% crazy university, a freelance treasure-hunter, a professional skeptic like the Amazing Randi, the Ancient Aliens guy who gets paid to spout off things that he knows are ridiculous BS, Ted Kennedy’s chauffeur, etc).

    Alternately, I’d recommend checking out Breaking Bad here. The main character is a high school chemistry teacher who becomes a narcotics producer and eventually a drug lord. There are very few scenes with him in the classroom or interacting with students, and his work as a chemistry teacher is mainly there to set up a conflict/arc for him (he’s fundamentally unhappy in his life because he’s a genius chemist and extremely prideful, but an underachiever in a low-status position, compared to he had previously been a founding member of a company that later became a multibillion dollar comglomerate).

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