As writers, we want to make our characters as unique and interesting as possible. One way to do this is to give your character a special skill or talent that sets him apart from other people. This might be something small, like having a green thumb or being good with animals, to a larger and more competitive talent like stock car racing or being an award-winning film producer.
When choosing a talent or skill, think about the personality of your character, his range of experiences and who his role models might have been. Some talents might be genetically imparted while others are created through exposure (such as a character talented at fixing watches from growing up in his father’s watch shop) or grow out of interest (archery, wakeboarding, or magic). Don’t be afraid to be creative and make sure the skill or talent is something that works with the scope of the story.
Description: The planting and nurturing of seeds to maturity for consumption and profit. There are many steps to farming, including preparation of the land using tools and machinery, understanding the needs of one’s crops as far as irrigation, nutrients and optimal sunlight conditions, and being able to harvest at the correct time, using methods that are economical as well as efficient. The result is the careful collection and storage of a crop that avoids as much product waste as possible. Crops might be for human or animal consumption, and are specific to the climate and growing zone. Most farmers also cultivate different types of crops (or raise livestock) to lower the risk if a particular crop does not do well in any given year.
Beneficial Strengths or Abilities: being physically strong and steady, having a deep interest in (and respect for) the land and farm lifestyle, the ability to manage one’s resources well, a keen eye for early signs of problems (such as pest and drought indicators, or an imbalance in the soil’s nutrients), being mechanically minded to fix and maintain one’s own machinery, having a gift for repurposing so nothing is wasted, carpentry skills (to build sheds, fences, etc.), an affinity for animals, handiness with a rifle for protection if wildlife is a factor, a proactive nature, contentment with a quieter way of life, etc. Many people who farm also try to provide their own food, so gardening skills and being able to raise and care for animals properly are also good skills to have.
Character Traits Suited for this Skill or Talent: self-sufficient, hard working, patient, perseverance, helpfulness, calm, intelligence, deep thinking, clever, curiosity
Required Resources and Training: Often people who grow crops or plants are those who have been raised on farms, and so exposure to the growth cycle and the routine of planting and harvesting over the years leads to rich experience on all aspects of farming. Understanding the climate is key, as not all crops are suited for all areas, and have different challenges to overcome. Farmers run and maintain their own equipment and structures, so mechanical and building knowledge is part of the package. Budget and resource management is necessary as yields are not always uniform, and paychecks are not consistent. Equipment breakdowns are expensive, so planning for emergencies is also a way of life for farmers.
Associated Stereotypes and Perceptions:
- Farming is dull and boring, and so the people who farm must be too
- It is difficult to make money farming as crops are dependent on climate
- Farming is a quiet life with little human interaction outside of family
Scenarios Where this Skill Might be Useful:
- understanding the cultivation of seeds is important to survival if goods are not readily available (or are expensive)
- farming skills would be highly valued in situations where communities are starting anew with fewer resources (after a war, a forced relocation, etc.)
- providing for oneself and one’s family during a time where income is not readily available decreases dependency on other people
You can brainstorm other possible Skills and Talents your characters might have by checking out our FULL LIST of this Thesaurus Collection. And for more descriptive help for Setting, Symbolism, Character Traits, Physical Attributes, Emotions, Weather and more, check out our Thesaurus Collections page.