Character Skills & Talents: Gaining the Trust of Others

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: Being skilled at getting people to confide in you

Beneficial Strengths or Abilities: being able to read people well, being a good listener, having a knack for making people feel comfortable and at ease

Character Traits Suited for this Skill or Talent: attentive, nurturing, discerning, observant, charming, perceptive, alert, tactful, empathetic, persuasive, devious, manipulative, hypocritical

Required Resources and Training: Being a confidant is more of a natural gift than a trained skill. There are just some people that others feel at ease with; people instinctively trust them and feel comfortable sharing their private feelings. Some confidants humbly acknowledge this skill and use it to help others. Others see a weakness that can be exploited and use their talents to take advantage of those who too easily misplace their trust.

Associated Stereotypes:  grandmothers, aunts, and other maternal types; the quiet member of a girl clique; therapists and psychologists; con-artists; Svengalis and other controlling figures

Scenarios Where this Skill Might be Useful:

  • when a character has a secret that needs to be revealed to readers
  • when your character needs information that someone else has
  • when a character needs to bribe or blackmail someone
  • when a character has a Savior complex and wants to help others
  • when a character desperately needs to be needed
  • when the information shared, even out-of-the-blue, offers incite into the main character’s weakness or overall problem

Resources for Further Information:

Getting People to Open Up to You

Why Do We Confide in Complete Strangers?

 

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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10 Responses to Character Skills & Talents: Gaining the Trust of Others

  1. Pingback: TV Tropes Monday: Frontline General | Neither Here nor There....

  2. Julie Musil says:

    Love this post! “Being a good listener” is an excellent way to be a good confidant.

  3. Joe Kovacs says:

    Becca, thanks for this insight on providing characters with unusual or stand-out traits. In a lot of stories, the kind of “stand-out” trait that you discuss here is often directly reflective of the character’s nature or stands in direct contrast of their nature. Captain Ahab has a prosthetic leg, or whatever it was–wood, maybe–that served as a replacement leg in the 19th century in Moby Dick. While yes, he physically lost that leg while whaling, the missing leg is also often interpreted as reflective of Ahab’s flawed, stunted nature (monomania). In films like The Mask (with Eric Stolz), the protagonist’s unusually distorted face stands in direct contrast to his kindly nature. You offer some great scenarios above where the character trait you discuss can be used to great effect. Developing that trait as something that speaks to the character’s nature (in other words, making the trait part of character development in addition to a device that advances plot), deepens its power as well. Nice job.

  4. I love the idea of girl dynamics–too often we see girl pitted against girl for the attention of a guy. It’s nice to reflect that not all females or males for that matter, are rivals for their best friend’s other half.

  5. Hiten Vyas says:

    Hi Becca,

    This was really interesting article, and I really appreciate the way you described how a confidant character can be created. It reminded me a little of the way I am in real life! Thank you.

  6. :Donna says:

    Love this trait! Another great one to put focus on, Becca. Thank you! 😀

    • Thanks, Donna! I came up for the idea for this one from reading Queen Bees and Wannabes, which talks about girl dynamics and the different roles that girls often play within cliques. The confidant is one of them. The book was so interesting that I’m thinking of writing a series of posts on girl dynamics and how authors can use the information to write girls/women realistically, or how the information can be used to flip the cliché. I hope this one comes in handy for you!

  7. Carleen M. Tjader says:

    Thank you for this post. I am new to this website and already I love it!

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