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: Having an exceptional memory allows a character to make observations and recall facts better than the average person. Whether they have a photographic memory, eidetic memory or simply a strong ability to focus on and later relay what one has seen, heard and experienced, this skill can be applied to many life situations and be an asset at one’s work. With this ability, learning curves can be shortened and less time is wasted. People with this skill can also keep and share knowledge in a more accurate manner, especially in situations where the subject is broad and other ways of staying on top of information may be cumbersome.
Beneficial Strengths or Abilities: This skill can have a genetic component, but is also be honed through practice. Often incorporating mnemonic methods (creating associations for the information to assist with retention) increases one’s memory abilities.
Character Traits Suited for this Skill or Talent: Strong focus, being observant, curiosity, open-minded, self-controlled, calm, analytical
Associated Stereotypes and Perceptions:
Many tie memory to intelligence, but the two are separate.
Scenarios Where this Skill Might be Useful:
- Navigation in confusing environments and avoiding getting lost
- Discerning lies by recalling past information and the accounts of others
- Personal improvement (for work, a sporting activity, a pastime, or even for survival)
- Leadership (learning from past mistakes & analyzing information)
- Retaining generational information (passing down stories, etc.) that might otherwise be forgotten in time
- Teaching or mentoring others
- Supplying facts and figures when needed, or bearing witness
- Adapting to change (using memory to navigate the dark) or dealing with the loss of a sense (blindness, for example)
- Remembering names, dates and studying for exams
- Gambling (counting cards)
Resources for Further Information:
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.
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Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, a portal to powerful, innovative tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.