These character writing prompts work as hard for the money as these laborers do to construct our homes, fix our faucets and otherwise keep the world running. We drive or walk past them on a hot or cold day and we see them toiling away at building a house, using a jackhammer on pavement or carrying bags of cement and we say things to ourselves like, "I'm glad I'm not in their shoes." We then go home and write stories of witty intellectuals sitting behind computers and composing art. I'm not saying that all laborers are necessarily interesting characters that should be placed into every story, I'm just saying that there are thousands and thousands of people using their hands, their arms and their legs to put parts of our world together. They have families and problems and internal conundrums and they can be used to great expectation defying effect in your stories.
Free Character Writing Prompts #57: Laborers
1. He wasn't your average Mr. Fix It as he was skinny and short with blond hair and blue eyes. Despite this, he was a travelling handyman who went throughout the city fixing and building for a discount. He would do the little things like assembling a bookcase and a larger issue like re-wiring an entire house. He was fully certified for all these tasks, he simply didn't look the part. There was something he loved about helping people to complete their homes and that love came through with each customer he helped. What does he do during his spare time to continue his love of helping people and why?
2. If you saw him on the street and he had a mad look on his face, you might want to cross to the other side. He was an older guy, but he was incredibly tall and built. He handled certain jobs building houses and other buildings that three men would strain to do. And yet, he was extremely kind and soft spoken. He loved his kids and his wife and treated them with an overflowing love. While he'd gotten a tough upbringing and his tough exterior genetically from his parents, he knew that he would have to be the one to turn the corner with compassion. What kind of pride does he take in his work building up houses for other families?
3. People gave her strange looks when she told them she drilled oil for a living. They assumed that was work for reclusive tough guys who wanted to escape from society. For her, it was a way of life and it was how she could provide money for her family, who lived in a cramped house on the mainland. She wasn't just trying to pull in enough for her kids and her husband, but also her sister's family and that was what kept her going every day. She was fortunate enough to have a skill set to do some difficult and thankless work, that was well paying enough to keep everyone afloat. What are some of the things she misses the most when she has to work on the oil rig for days at a time?
4. When you saw this cute, little blond with a tool belt, you laughed a little to yourself. When you saw her assisting her peers in hauling large chunks of metal and wood in constructing everything from sheds to theater sets, you were thoroughly impressed. When she was away from the long-sleeved shirts and beat-up jeans of her work, she wore loud, attractive clothes that were a clear departure from her day job. She said that she'd gotten into work with her hands during college and that she'd kept it up because she loved being one of the guys and defying expectations. What is her day-to-day life like on the job and how does it contrast with her nightlife?
5. He always thought he'd be doing more with his life. His best efforts at college weren't enough to earn a degree despite multiple attempts and he found a job pouring cement for housing foundations. While some of his peers saw it as a sort of metaphor, building foundations for growing families, he couldn't help but see it as a disappointment. He hated talking about his job with his friends and he looked at himself as a failure. His parents were surprised that he was so unhappy, because they were proud of him and his long-standing job. All of the pressure in his life seemed to be coming from himself. Will he ever be able to find something to be grateful for in his job?
6. He wasn't the kind of person who built things up. He was a destroyer of walls, furniture, windows and anything else that needed breaking. He took a certain pride in swinging his hammer as if he was Thor or something. He loved reading comics and thought of himself as a sort of superhero. His peers warned employers not to get on his bad side, but in reality he was more of a jokester than a hothead. He just happened to be good at turning things into rubble. He loved pretending to be a scary dude to someone he'd never met, before slapped the person on the back and laughing uproariously. How did he get into such a destructive, enjoyable line of work?
7. As she put the finishing touches on the final bush, she stepped back and marveled at what she'd done. She'd been one of the main landscape artists for a beautiful mansion property in town for several years, but this was her finest creation yet. She'd created a close to life-size replica of Noah's Ark in the form of shaped bushes, trees and flowers. Her employers were major figureheads in Christianity and had given her instruction to use a prominent biblical tale. She went above and beyond anything they thought was possible and she felt incredible satisfaction. What are some of the other creations that have come as a result of her hard work?
8. When her father had two daughters, he assumed that their legacy working on the Ford assembly line would be kaput after two generations. He had no idea that one of them would continue the path by taking his place shortly after his retirement. She loved making her father happy that the trend of car manufacturing could continue. After all, he'd taken so much pride in his handiwork growing up that his daughter couldn't help but fall in love with cars as well. She knew more about vehicles than most mechanics and she even assembled cars with her dad in the garage during her spare time. What are some of the things she likes the most about working on cars?
9. He felt like a real daredevil sometimes, but in actuality, he was just a roof repairman and cleaner. He had seen a perspective of his city that few other than low-flying pilots could obtain. He loved telling people the things he did on a day-to-day basis because they all thought his death-defying roof heroics were impressive. For the most part, he was quite safe up there due to having the proper equipment, though he had experienced a few close calls in his time. He recently got into one of his first long-term relationships and his partner has given him a lot of guilt about putting himself in such danger. Will he decide to stay with the profession or will he pick to stay safe and keep his partner from worrying?
10. While most of her friends were getting ready for their senior prom, she was working all throughout the night on her trade school final project. She was one of the best welders her school had ever seen and she loved it so much she made it a job and a hobby. During the day, she welded together parts of heavy machinery. By night, she was a semi-successful sculptor who used what she could find in junkyards and trash heaps to turn into art. There was something she really enjoyed about connecting and creating metal objects. The first time she saw the blue flame and the mask during a lesson in trade school, she somehow knew it was what she wanted to do the rest of her life. What are some examples of machines and sculptures she had worked on?
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