Jobs are as important for our characters as they are for real people. A character’s career might be their dream job or one they’ve chosen due to necessity. In your story, they might be trying to get that job or are already working in the field. Whatever the situation, as with any defining aspect for your character, you’ll need to do the proper research to be able to write that career knowledgeably.
Enter the Occupation Thesaurus. Here, you’ll find important background information on a variety of career options for your character. In addition to the basics, we’ll also be covering related info that relates to character arc and story planning, such as sources of conflict (internal and external) and how the job might impact basic human needs, thereby affecting the character’s goals. It’s our hope that this thesaurus will share some of your research burden while also giving you ideas about your character’s occupation that you might not have considered before.
Occupation: Landscape Designer
Overview: Landscape designers turn outdoors spaces into functional and attractive places for their customers. They meet with clients to ascertain their wants and needs, draw up plans, select plants, and propose their ideas to clients. Those ideas may include plant beds, water features, decking and patios, walls, walkways, pools, and small structures. Once the design has been solidified, the designer will oversee the project.
Necessary Training: A self-employed landscape designer needs no official training, though it would likely help in gaining new clients. Most design firms will require a certain level of training for their designers, whether that be an associate’s (two-year) degree in landscape design, a bachelor’s degree, a specific certification, or some degree of personal experience in the field.
Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: Gardening, good listening skills, repurposing
POSITIVE: Analytical, cooperative, courteous, creative, curious, focused, imaginative, industrious, meticulous, nature-focused, observant, patient, professional, responsible
Sources of Friction: A fussy client who is never satisfied, misunderstanding a client’s desires, introducing diseased shrubs that die quickly, permitting issues with the local authorities, nit-picky inspectors, unreliable or dishonest employees, weather difficulties (extreme hot or cold, a storm interrupting a project), a blight or infestation of a certain plant that drives up prices, unforeseen issues with a project (the ground being rockier than expected, problems with the soil, etc.), being sold inferior plants that don’t survive very long, accidentally planting the wrong plants that won’t thrive or don’t get along, contractors cutting corners and building structures that aren’t reliable, a contractor becoming romantically involved with a client, working with a dishonest partner or business administrator, being really good with plants but really bad with people (or managing finances, marketing, etc.)
People They Might Interact With: landscape employees, the company’s owner, office personnel, clients, wholesalers and retailers (of plants, pavers, gardening equipment, etc.), plumbers, construction workers, inspectors
How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:
- Self-Actualization: Someone who entered this field so they could continue a parent’s business or carry on someone else’s legacy may find their self-actualization impacted if the job doesn’t make them happy
- Esteem and Recognition: Someone seeking esteem may be unfulfilled if, despite doing a good job, they’re unable to garner the kind of recognition and accolades they would like
Common Work-Related Settings: Backyard, flower garden, flower shop, greenhouse, hardware store, old pick-up truck, pond, tool shed, tree house, vegetable patch
Twisting the Fictional Stereotype: Landscape designers are typically portrayed as men between the ages of 20 and 40. What about a female designer, or an elderly person who has retired from years of landscape work to pursue his dream of designing? Could your landscape designer be part of a family business, with mom as the office manager and an older brother overseeing the day-to-day landscape work? Be sure not to neglect the small details because it’s those that can turn a ho-hum career choice into something that catches the eye.
Visit the other Occupations in our collection HERE.