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 a good listener means paying close attention to people, hearing what they say, and understanding what they mean.
Beneficial Strengths or Abilities: intense focus, the ability to pay attention for long periods of time without being…
Character Traits Suited for this Skill or Talent: observant, perceptive, empathetic, being able to read people…
Associated Stereotypes and Perceptions: women; maternal types; therapists and counselors…
Scenarios Where this Skill Might be Useful:
- when a relationship is in trouble and needs mending
- when there is conflict between characters and a subjective viewpoint is needed
- when a character is being deceptive (a careful listener may hear discrepancies in someone’s story or pick up on tells)…
Resources for Further Information:
Ten Steps to Effective Listening
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.
These are fabulous! I’ve been showcasing one of my current characters as being a good listener. I love that he’s not the stereotype listed. I am going to work in some of these ideas. Thanks so much, Becca!
BECCA PUGLISI says
So glad this will come in handy for you, Ellen :).
Jade champion says
Great trait, there’s the negative and the positive side to it! Great job!
I had never thought of a con artist needing this skill, but of course a con artist must. I always learn something when I come here. Thanks for another great post.
Traci Kenworth says
Great trait to have!!
BECCA PUGLISI says
Sadly, I had to be inspired by some other people to write this one. I’m not the best listener in the world. There’s always something to work on 🙂
:Donna Marie says
I can only try to express how grateful I am having discovered you two and your site (and books, though I had the “Emotion” book before finding you online!). These are exactly the kinds of tools I was aching for, making the thinking and research process while building characters, plotting, etc. faster and easier. Anything to do that and save time is a true godsend. Thank you! Also, are you going to compile your “Skills & Talents” thesaurus into a print book to purchase? I SO love actual paper books I can handle, flip through quickly and highlight 😀
BECCA PUGLISI says
Thanks for the kind words, Donna! I’m glad we’ve been able to make things a little easier for you.
As for a book version of the Talents and Skills Thesaurus…who knows :). We’re probably not going to turn all of our thesauri into books; it all depends on which ones are the most beneficial to writers. We’ll keep you posted!