Talents and Skills Thesaurus Entry: A Way with Animals

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. 

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A Way With Animals

Description: People who have a way with animals are able to easily win animals over. They know how to approach, communicate with, and win the trust of animals that normally would shy away from humans. The people also are able to identify the physical and emotional problems that a given animal may have. In the other hand, animals instinctively recognize that these kinds of people can be trusted.

Beneficial Strengths or Abilities: having an affinity for nature, being comfortable being by oneself (since animals aren’t likely to approach a crowd of humans),

Character Traits Suited for this Skill or Talent: compassionate, observant, unselfish, perceptive, patient, calm, kind

Required Resources and Training: Spending time with and studying certain animals can lead to a better understanding of how they function individually, their group dynamics, and their overall tendencies. Studying their biology and physiology can give someone the knowledge necessary to help them from a medical standpoint. There are also real people with this knack; working closely with them may give someone valuable information into the process of understanding animals and gaining their trust.

Associated Stereotypes and Perceptions: Princesses and fantasy heroines most often have this skill, without any explanation ever being offered as to why. To break the stereotype, consider giving this skill to a male character, or an adult rather than a child. Maybe the gift applies to certain species or kinds of animals, or is limited to a geographic or temporal location. And giving a reason for the character’s extraordinary gift might aid in making it more believable for readers and giving it a new spin.

Scenarios Where this Skill Might be Useful:

  • when a favored animal (the king’s stallion, the witch-woman’s familiar, a child’s pet) is sick, injured, or under-achieving
  • a rural setting where animals are plenty and people are scarce
  • a scenario where animals are needed to resolve the main conflict
  • when the animals know important information that the hero doesn’t
  • in a futuristic/dystopian setting where animals rule and humans are subjugated

Resources for Further Information:

7 Amazing Wild Animal Whisperers

The Real Life Horse Whisperer

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.

About BECCA PUGLISI

Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling. You can find Becca online at both of these spots, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
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9 Responses to Talents and Skills Thesaurus Entry: A Way with Animals

  1. Pingback: Monday Must-Reads [07.21.14 The Last Month's Worth]

  2. Great post! As usual your advice is fantastic.

  3. :Donna Marie says:

    Another great entry, Becca 🙂 Thank you! And LOVE the picture of The Beast. One of my Disney faves 😀

  4. Francesca Moore says:

    I really enjoyed this post. By the end of it I’d got my notebook out and was jotting down notes for the third book of a series I’m writing at the moment. Glad to say I had subconsciously done a lot of what you were suggesting, will definitely keep all of this in mind when introducing new characters.

  5. Julie Musil says:

    Our family loves animals. Right now we have two dogs, one momma cat and five kittens, and a leopard gecko. My sister is NOT an animal lover…guess who all the animals go to when she’s over? Yep, my sister. It’s hilarious.

    I’ve written animal lovers into my stories without even realizing it. And yes, they were compassionate and patient. Thanks, ladies!

  6. I’m using this right now with my heroine. She’s not a princess though. “)

  7. jeffo says:

    I wonder why it is that princesses are always so good with animals. It must be some magical combination of royal blood and femininity! Great list, as usual.

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