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.
The Silver Tongue
Description: this gift comes from an ability to communicate one’s sincerity and trustworthiness through speech, saying the right thing at the right time to persuade, get out of trouble, or talk oneself into places and events that are off limits. A charming person always sounds reasonable, trustworthy, and is able to win over the people around them. This skill can be used for good or ill, depending on how self-serving one’s aims are.
Related Skills: Lying, Manipulation, Public Speaking
Beneficial Strengths or Abilities: being articulate and personable, thinking on one’s feet, having a strong command over one’s own emotions, an easy-going nature, being able to read body language and micro-expressions, displaying calm under pressure, having humor and wit and using them to one’s advantage, having a pleasant face and smile as well as an appealing tone of voice (some accents naturally put people at ease or warm listeners to them such as Scottish, Irish, Australian or South African accents.)
Character Traits Suited for this Skill or Talent: observant, charming, humorous, persuasive, intelligence, friendly, trustworthy, diplomatic, manipulative, sincerity, confidence
Required Resources and Training: strong observation of people, understanding where the power lies in a situation, and the emotions at play are key. A person would be required to put significant time into studying one’s environment, people, social norms, and politics to fit in seamlessly. Understanding emotion, educating oneself in psychology and honing one’s social skills would all be important. Practicing “reading” people by observing body language, talking to those who are in different levels of emotional distress and attempting to diffuse them would build up one’s skill. Starting conversations and getting to know people to analyze what motivates them, what they fear and how to activate trust in them are important.
Scenarios Where this Skill Might be Useful:
- talking oneself out of trouble (with the police, angry neighbors, a girlfriend or boyfriend, employers, etc.)
- mediating tense situations between two reactive parties
- leadership; managing a team or group
- impressing people with one’s social skills to win favor
- offering counsel or advise (especially if people are difficult to work with, have challenges or are uncommunicative because of emotional trauma, such as victims of violence)
- any task where the goal is to gather information from other people
- being a reporter or journalist
- living in a politically dangerous time where one must be careful to say and do the right things to avoid scrutiny
Resources for Further Information:
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.