Character Talents and Skills: Talking with the Dead

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 communicate with those who have passed on, and if asked, convey messages between the living and dead

Beneficial Strengths or Abilities: being a qualified medium (having the ability to tune into the specific spirit energy of a person to see the past, present and future) or having strong psychic and/or intuitive abilities, living a clean lifestyle to become more receptive to spiritual energy, having control over one’s fears, having strong meditation skills, being able to protect or replenish one’s own energy to avoid being drained by others, being educated in psychology to better council any who are tormented after the passing of a loved one and who are seeking reassurances or closure through this type of communication

Character Traits Suited for this Skill or Talent: compassion, empathy, intuitive, focused, relaxed, intelligent, intrepid, protective, helpful, honest

Required Resources and Training: while a certain amount of this ability would come from a natural talent, learning how to focus that talent would likely require a mentor (another medium) who could guide the character in learning meditation and focusing skills. A quiet environment (a place of peace) would help one learn this focus and how to let go of any emotions that might cloud one’s ability and disrupt the connection between the living and dead. A psychic may choose to use a specific communication method that would also need to be learned and practiced (ball gazing, card reading, palmistry, reading a haunted object, etc.)

Associated Stereotypes and Perceptions:

  • Some believe that mediums and psychics are real, others do not. Of those that do, it is widely accepted that while true mediums exist, so do frauds

Scenarios Where this Skill Might be Useful:

  • speaking with past generations to collect their knowledge
  • having the deceased’s help regarding an event that caused great disruption (a king who died under mysterious circumstances, finding the location of an important document or will, or getting details from a girl who was kidnapped and murdered to find her body or track down her killer, etc.)
  • personal guidance in spiritual matters and gaining insight on what will come after death
  • helping to rid a person or place of malevolent spirits
  • offering loved ones closure by being able to convey messages between the living and dead

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: PeterDargatz @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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8 Responses to Character Talents and Skills: Talking with the Dead

  1. Pingback: Top Picks Thursday 04-09-2015 | The Author Chronicles

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  3. :Donna Marie says:

    Because of my belief system, I already know this is one “talent” I’ll never use in fiction! It does make for good fiction, though, when done well. It was fantastic in Harry Potter!

    • Yes, some things don’t align with a belief system, but it’s all good. I think anything paranormal will be hit and miss as some believe it is real while others think it’s a hoax. 😉

  4. A spooky one!! Right up my alley!!

  5. Nat Russo says:

    Great article, Angela! As a person who writes about necromancers, this is a topic near and dear to my heart. 🙂

    My version of necromancy in “Necromancer Awakening”, however, is a little different than the version fantasy readers usually encounter. The undead are living in a form of purgatory and require the services of a necromancer to “purify” them before they can move on in the afterlife. The necromancer achieves this by living that person’s life in the span of a moment, which gives them the perspective they need to form some sort of judgement about the character of the undead person in question.

    Incidentally, I now have the full set of thesauri and recommend them as often as possible. They’ve truly made me a better writer!

    • This is what I love about these talents and skills entries–everyone can take them and evolve the idea into something totally unique. Love how you envisioned this sort of talent through your character.

      And Nat, I am so thrilled you are finding the books are really helping. Music to my ears 🙂 Have a terrific Sunday!

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