Talents and Skills Thesaurus Entry: Self-Defense

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 elpecial 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 able to defend oneself against physical attack involves a variety of methods, such as heightened awareness that enables one to avoid a potential attack, verbal techniques to de-escalate a violent situation, evasive physical tactics…

Beneficial Strengths or Abilities: physical strength, quickness, being in tune with one’s instincts

Character Traits Suited for this Skill or Talent: being observant, determination, level-headedness, a teachable attitude, being able to think quickly

Required Resources and Training: While luck or terror may inadvertently enable a person to escape a serious situation, training is definitely an asset for someone who wants to effectively defend him/herself. Self-defense courses often teach a variety of techniques…

Associated Stereotypes and Perceptions: Frail female victims who are transformed  into kick-butt women who can take on anyone; women who have been attacked in the past; ex-military types

Scenarios Where this Skill Might be Useful:

  • when a child or teen is being bullied
  • working or living in a dangerous part of town
  • when someone is being stalked or threatened in some way…

Resources for Further Information:

Top 7 Self-Defense Moves for Women

Self-Defense: More than Just a Physical Response

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. You can find Becca online at both of these spots, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
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Monday Must-Reads [05/19/14]
6 years ago

[…] Talents and Skills Thesaurus Entry: Self Defense | WRITERS HELPING WRITERS […]

Julie Musil
6 years ago

Kapow! Thanks for another great entry.

Rosi Hollinbeck
6 years ago

This could really be a fun one to include. Thanks!

Carrie Butler
6 years ago

Often a college course, too! 🙂

:Donna Marie
6 years ago

There’s no question about the benefits of this trait! I wish it’s one I had! Thanks, Becca 🙂