Character Talents and Skills: Repurposing

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: the ability to envision new uses for common items, or to alter what one has to fit a specific need.

Beneficial Strengths or Abilities: being good with one’s hands, the ability to imagine how different objects might fit together or work in a different way, thinking beyond the obvious, the drive to find a better, more efficient way of doing things, the desire to avoid wastefulness, a willingness to learn and try new things, being “crafty,” seeing beauty in common things, having a eco-mindset, being mechanically-minded

Character Traits Suited for this Skill or Talent: creative, imaginative, thrifty, tenacious, calm, curious, sensible, decisive

Required Resources and Training: collecting useful items at minimal cost, or hanging onto things that can be reinvented to become something else, treating items gently so that they last, researching do-it-yourself projects (sites like Pinterest are a treasure trove of ideas), learning to see the potential in common things, applying oneself to master tools or learn creative techniques, volunteering in order to learn new skills (carpentry, home repair, engineering, mechanics, painting, etc.)

Associated Stereotypes and Perceptions:

  • That repurposing is often harder than it looks
  • That just because something is old doesn’t mean it isn’t useful
  • That people who repurpose are cheap or stingy

Scenarios Where this Skill Might be Useful:

  • being able to fix problems or make necessary repairs when one has little resources to work with
  • being able to stretch one’s resources when times are tight
  • succeeding by applying creative thinking to problems that stump linear thinkers
  • being able to show thoughtfulness through creating gifts that are one of a kind and useful
  • creating items that are helpful, stylish or unique and selling them to earn money

Resources for Further Information:

Repurposing on Pinterest

50 Creative Ways to Repurpose, Reuse and Upcycle Old Things

Green Tips for a Healthy Planet

LifeHacks Discussion Board

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.


Image: Alsudiz @ Pixabay


Angela is an international speaker and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also enjoys dreaming up new tools and resources for One Stop For Writers, a library built to help writers elevate their storytelling.
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9 Responses to Character Talents and Skills: Repurposing

  1. Pingback: Writing Links…9/08/14 | TraciKenworth's Blog

  2. Curtis says:

    As soon as I saw this I thought of MacGyver. He could repurpose anything in his immediate environment into anything else, in minutes, using only his trusty pocket knife. Not very plausibly, I’m afraid.

  3. This is a really good one. My MC is a real re-purposer, and I think I will beef that talent up. Thanks for another great post.

  4. A great skill to have!!

  5. Great tips on how to use re-purposing in creating your characters. Thanks.

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