That’s what everyone tells you anyway. Sadly, having a psychologist or a professor as my main protagonist in each of my books would be a drag. Although, now that I look at it, there is a mental health professional in many of my novels (published and unpublished). Oh well. Still, some peripheral characters were “requisite” psychologist in my books which meant I had to learn about other occupations – and work that I’ve never done.
How should a writer learn about other occupations? Research of course. Here are a few ways to make your characters be realistic…
- Ask. Yes, ask someone who you know that does that kind of work. You’d be surprised how many people would love to chat about what they do – and outline ways that their occupation would lend itself to a storyline.
- Online research. This is simple of course, but make sure you’ve got reliable sources. Career counseling websites, Professional Association websites, and even blogs by certain professionals would often describe their day to day lives.
- University libraries and departments. You probably don’t even need to go to campus. The university websites for various programs will explain the preparation and training for particular majors and also state licensing requirements.
For my novel, The Disembodied, I checked multiple sites for their take on Depersonalization Disorder. Now, as a psychologist, I was familiar with it. But, not as much as you’d think. I never encountered a case of it. I wanted to see how it was portrayed on the internet. I found a great description on the Mayo Clinic website, I even included the reference in the novel.
Writers can avoid looking like they don’t know what they’re talking about by checking out these available sources. They’re huge, and they’re right at our fingertips.