Talents and Skills Entry: Swift-footedness

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. 


Courtesy of Dru Bloomfield

Description: Being able to run quickly

Beneficial Strengths or Abilities: endurance, being physically fit

Character Traits Suited for this Skill or Talent: disciplined, driven, competitive, determined

Required Resources and Training: Undoubtedly, there’s a genetic component to speed (including body mass index, bone structure, and muscle fiber physiology), making some people simply born to run fast. But a training regimen can help the swift of foot by…

Associated Stereotypes and Perceptions: Associated stereotypes include athletes (especially sprinters and distance runners), extremely thin people, superheroes, and men and women of African heritage. Common perceptions of fast people is that they may abuse…

Scenarios Where this Skill Might be Useful:

  • in a race
  • when a message needs to be taken on foot
  • in an emergency situation when supplies need to be delivered on foot…

Resources for Further Information:

Physical Characteristics of Sprinters and Runners

25 Tips for Running Faster

Add Speed with these Before and After Running Tips


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 [08.18.14]
6 years ago

[…] Talents and Skills Entry: Swift-footed – WRITERS HELPING WRITERSWRITERS HELPING WRITERS […]

Erika Mitchell
6 years ago

I didn’t realize this until a beta reader pointed it out, but all my main characters are runners. I think this is because I used to love running until injuring my knee, and now the only way to enjoy it is vicariously through my writing.

Either way, great post!

:Donna Marie
6 years ago

All I could think of was how fast I was as a kid and how it’s been YEARS since I could even walk fast without twisting SOMEthing! lol Another excellent post, Becca. Thank you 🙂

Rosi Hollinbeck
6 years ago

Great post as usual. Very useful. Thanks.

Traci Kenworth
6 years ago

I’d like to be able to do this, unfortunately, I have one pace: snail. Lol.

Julie Musil
6 years ago

Another great entry. My two sons are running crossing country for their high school and have been waking early to run six miles a day. Not necessarily only for speed, but also for endurance. I wish I loved running!

6 years ago
Reply to  Julie Musil

I actually want to try running. I like the idea of it, but have never had the courage to try. I just imagine this frumpy jiggly mess running along the road…UGH. But I will do it, mark my words!