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: Some people have an ear for languages. They naturally pick up on patterns and nuances, quickly learn to understand other languages, and are able to speak them fluently in record time. A knack for languages can also enable people to cue in on the cultural cues, idioms, and humor of a culture, which can be difficult for outsiders to grasp.
Beneficial Strengths or Abilities: recognizing patterns, having a basic understanding of languages and linguistics, having good hearing
Character Traits Suited for this Skill or Talent: being observant, passionate, focused, persistent
Required Resources and Training: Languages can be learned in isolation, but experts agree that one of the best ways to become fluent in a foreign language is to immerse oneself in the culture. To this end, traveling and being surrounded by certain cultures and languages can be the quickest and most effective way to learn other languages.
Experts also say that people who learn multiple languages as children are more likely to pick up other languages when they’re older. If you want to add credibility to your character’s gift with languages, maybe having him be bilingual as a child is a way to start.
Scenarios Where this Skill Might be Useful:
- as a translator
- in a hostile takeover situation where one needs to be able to understand/speak the enemy’s language
- being thrust into a foreign culture and needing to assimilate quickly
- when one is stuck in a foreign country
- when one must flee one’s own country
- when living in a melting pot culture where many languages are spoken
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.