If your world is odd, it should have odd jobs. Manticore-walking. Dragon-washes. Demonic contract editors.
…Wait, those might be regular lawyers.
The limits of human ingenuity have ever expanded, but nothing puts them to the test like a determined person out to put food on the table. If there’s something out there that needs to be done, or that enough people want done badly enough, someone will be out there making money at it. For better or for worse.
(Sometimes for very much worse. Two words: Human trafficking.)
Think of the things your hero needs done to do his job. Or that your villain needs done. You can’t run an empire on fear alone, much as many Evil Overlords would like to. Faceless minions have to eat, too. Just ask Sauron.
Odds are whatever your world is, it’ll need normal jobs. Customs. Clerks. Executioners. Shipbuilders, anything from rowboats to space. Librarians. Politicians.
…I know, I know, but politicians are marginally better than a bunch of people getting together and deciding they don’t like group Y and hunting them down with rocks and shell knives. Ask Hypatia of Alexandria. And they’re supposed to be better than monarchs who thing they’re born to rule because. Now if someone would just remind our current crop of politicians of that….
Here’s where the worldbuilding gets intriguing. Depending on your setting, even normal jobs may have a hint of the fantastic. How do you write antivirus software for a partially cyborged brain? Does the farrier need special horseshoe nails for a mount used to hunt down werewolves? Does the cuneiform tablet have to be written on a specific kind of clay to be considered admissible in a court of law? Could a plumber’s typical day on the job include mad science experiments very unhappy to be flushed down the drain?
This is particularly important to think about if you’re planning for your hero to be an amateur detective, or someone in the wrong place at the right time. If you throw your average 9 to 5 cubicle worker directly into a confrontation with the Sidhe, it’s likely to end horribly. But if that same 9-to-5er is the guy everyone counts on to feng shui the workplace, or even just to go get the pool of lottery tickets because they seem to be lucky….
Then you’ve got a wedge for your hero to be just a little out of the ordinary. Meaning it’s more plausible for them to survive when the world goes crazy.
Not to mention, if you really want to have fun writing a story, why not picture the oddest job out there that you’d love to have if it were real? Unicorn herd wrangler, where you get up before dawn with black tea strong enough to stand your hair on end, because the darned horns spook at the scent of coffee. Deep-space salvager, working from old mission reports and a gut feel for how gravitational fields and stellar winds might have drifted the wreck years and centuries later. A blessed plumber, armed with salt, iron, and bleach against the water monsters crawling up the drain.
What would be fun to do – absolutely amazing to do – in the world of your dreams? Then let your characters do it.
After all, you’re a writer. That’s one of the oddest jobs of all!