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.
Overview: A farmer is a person who plants, grows, and harvests crops or they breed and raise animals, most often for food consumption.
Necessary Training: It isn’t mandatory that a farmer has formal education, but unless they have significant experience (perhaps from working on a farm or growing up on one), it can greatly help them gain the knowledge they need to succeed. Farming is a very complex business requiring adaptability, foresight, and many different skill sets. Farmers who grow crops must become subject matter experts in an exact crop type, be it grains, vegetables, berries, fruit, nuts, or seeds. They will need to understand what each crop needs and where it will grow best, plus ensure optimal conditions (sun, water, nutrients, etc.) are in place while taking certain precautions to protect from pests and disease. Crops will also need to be harvested, stored, transported, and sold. With so many stages in the food production chain, a lot can go wrong if it isn’t handled correctly.
If a farmer raises animals (mammals, avians, fish, etc.), they are responsible for their welfare and must know their needs, provide a healthy environment, proper nutrition and care, understand animal husbandry, follow industry safety and health standards, and be able to pass livestock inspections. Once the livestock is ready for sale, the farmer must arrange for the sale and transport of these animals.
Farming is a business, meaning farmers also manage accounts, pay bills, manage workers, address rotating debts (if applicable), balance books, purchase and maintain equipment and other supplies, maintain the property and all buildings, connect with suppliers, buyers, and arrange for the product to reach markets. Margins are tight, the market fluctuates, and weather, policy, and pricing will always influence a farmer’s bottom line.
Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: a knack for making money, a way with animals, basic first aid, carpentry, enhanced hearing, enhanced sense of smell, enhanced taste buds, ESP (clairvoyance), exceptional memory, farming, gardening, haggling, mechanically inclined, multitasking, predicting the weather, repurposing
POSITIVE: Adaptable, ambitious, analytical, calm, disciplined, efficient, independent, industrious, meticulous, nature-focused, nurturing, observant, patient, proactive, resourceful, responsible, socially aware, thrifty, wholesome, wise
NEGATIVE: compulsive, know-it-all, workaholic, worrywart
Sources of Friction: An illness that decimates one’s crop or livestock, climate change or extreme weather (early frosts, too much rain or not enough, drought that lasts year after year, lightning strikes that cause forest fires, flooding, etc.), mounting debt, political policies and market shifts that affect one’s ability to get one’s product to consumers, pricing shifts, market saturation, wild animals attacking one’s livestock, an illness or injury that prevents one from performing one’s duties, too much work and not enough time to stay on top of it, pressure to change one’s crops to better fit the market’s needs, a lack of support from the government, feeling one’s industry is being over-taxed and over-regulated, friction within the family if a member desires to trade a country life for a city one, equipment breakdowns happening at the worst time, family conflict if there’s a disagreement over the direction of the business, moral conflict over farming methods vs. profitability
People They Might Interact With: other farmers, neighbors, mechanics, suppliers, customers, inspectors, veterinarians
How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:
- Self-Actualization: A character who loves living and working in the country may question their path if staying afloat is a constant, wearying struggle
- Love and Belonging: If there are differences in opinions in a family-run farm (how it’s being run, decisions that create risk which not everyone is comfortable with, or there is pressure on children to choose the farming life for themselves yet they want something different for themselves) it can cause problems and lead to distanced relationships
- Physiological Needs: Farming is not an easy livelihood because so many different elements are outside the farmer’s control. Dealing with debt is a huge struggle and should a farmer lose that battle, it can leave them and their loved ones without the necessary things they need to survive
Common Work-Related Settings: barn, chicken coop, country road, county fair, farm, farmer’s market, garage, hunting cabin, meadow, old pick-up truck, orchard, pasture, ranch, tool shed, vegetable patch
Visit the other Occupations in our collection HERE.