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: widely searching an area to obtain provisions, namely food items. Foraging is an ancient skill utilized by most early people groups as a way of obtaining food in the wild. Since no single land plot can grow every desirable edible, people foraged abroad—in forests, oceans, rivers, and other locales for what they couldn’t grow themselves. While…
Beneficial Strengths or Abilities: physical stamina, good eyesight (to distinguish edible sources from non-edible)
Character Traits Suited for this Skill or Talent: patience, intelligence, caution, respect, diligence, responsibility…
Associated Stereotypes and Perceptions:
- medicine men and women
- paranoid people living off the grid
Scenarios Where this Skill Might be Useful:
- surviving in a post-apocalyptic world where food is scarce
- surviving a natural or man-made catastrophe
- living in a rural community that is cut off from others and completely independent…
Resources for Further Information:
- Foraging with “Wild Man” Steve Brill
- A Brief History of Foraging Societies
- Helpful Books on Foraging
Talents and skills not only make our characters stand out, they often help them attain their goals. So choosing them strategically can greatly enhance both the character and the story.
If this is something you’d like to learn more about, you can find the entries in their entirety at One Stop For Writers, where all our thesauruses are cross-referenced and linked for easy navigation. If you’re interested in seeing a free sampling of the Talent and Skill Thesaurus and our other descriptive collections, head on over and register at One Stop!
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.
I meant Talent and Skill I hadn’t thought of. Long day on the plane yesterday. Little sleep. Sorry.
I just came back from the Highlight’s Whole Novel: Historical Fiction workshop and The Emotion Thesaurus was a hot topic as were the Trait Thesauri. Those who hadn’t known about them were really excited. I use my Emotion Thesaurus all the time and hope to order the others soon. I really like this post on Foraging. It’s a trait I hadn’t thought of, but it will fit right in with my WIP. Thanks for posting these.
ANGELA ACKERMAN says
I am thrilled to hear that the ET was mentioned at the Highlights Whole Novel Workshop! And I’m so glad the Emotion thesaurus helps you especially!
I would love to go to one of their workshops sometime. I have heard so much about them! Thanks for posting 🙂 Have a great rest of your weekend, and some down time, too! 🙂
BECCA PUGLISI says
Woot! This is exciting! So glad to hear people were talking about our books :). And I’m happy to know that you’re getting so much use out of your Emotion Thesaurus.
Cathy Brockman says
i love your tips and books. I bought the eotion thesraurus in ebook. could you send me the lnks to the paperback versions of all your books and do youhave these in a bundle? email@example.com
BECCA PUGLISI says
Hi, Cathy! Thanks for buying a copy of The Emotion Thesaurus. I hope it helps you tons :). As for the print copies, if you click on the Bookstore tab at the top of the page, we have links to our books at the different distributors. Just click on the one you fancy, and it will take you to the right page. Happy writing!
Patricia Yager Delagrange says
Really enjoyed this one.
Mart Ramirez says
Great reminder, Becca! Thank you. Interesting example too.