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: Using herbs and plants to maintain health and cure ills.
Beneficial Strengths or Abilities: Basic knowledge of botany and biology; being able to forage and find the plants that one needs
Character Traits Suited for this Skill or Talent: observant, analytical, nature-focused, intelligent, objective, resourceful, studious
Required Resources and Training: Before modern doctors and medicine, herbalism was often the only medical resource available to the general public. Aspiring herbalists would be apprenticed to masters who taught them about the different kinds of plants and their properties. Less formal training methods would involve a student learning at the hand of a parent or neighbor. Today, herbal medicine is making a comeback as part of the alternative medicine movement, and much information is available for anyone wishing to educate themselves in this area in the form of books, online articles, coursework, and apprenticeships.
Associated Stereotypes: wise old women, midwives, medicine men, shamans, quacks
Associated Perceptions: In past times, when herbalism was common, those with medicinal knowledge of herbs and plants were considered wise and beneficent. Today, in many advanced cultures, herbalism is often seen as quackery, and those who practice it are viewed as ignorant and uneducated, since much of herbalism isn’t based on scientific evidence. Those who embrace it often do so out of a growing distaste for current medicinal practices and a desire to return to a more natural method of healing.
Scenarios Where this Skill Might be Useful:
- In a fictional society where healers aren’t readily available to the general public
- In a fictional society where plants have both medicinal and magical properties
- In the past
- In a post-apocalyptic scenario
- When someone is isolated or alienated from society
- When someone is injured or falls ill on a camping or hiking trip
- When someone becomes gravely ill and known medicine techniques have been exhausted
- During a time when medical supplies are scarce, such as a war or natural disaster
Resources for Further Information:
From Traditional Remedies to Modern Pharmaceuticals
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.