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: The ability to mimic sounds, voices, accents, etc. so one sounds just like the person or thing that one is mimicking.
Beneficial Strengths or Abilities: strong listening skills
Character Traits Suited for this Skill or Talent: observant, disciplined, determined, playful, mischievous…
Required Resources and Training:
Associated Stereotypes and Perceptions: Comedians are often able to mimic the voices and body language of others to humorous effect. Spies and assassins are often…
Scenarios Where this Skill Might be Useful:
- when one needs to impersonate someone via a non-visual medium (over the phone, from the far side of a door, from inside an adjoining room, etc.)
- when verbal permission for something is needed and the person in charge would never grant it himself
- when someone wants to degrade or belittle an opponent…
Resources for Further Information:
Voice Over Experts Discuss Voice Matching and Imitating Voices
Related Talents and Skills: A Knack with Languages
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.
:Donna Marie says
Certain people and scenes instantly pop to mind: Robin Williams 🙁 , Meryl Streep, and that scend in “Ferris Bueller” when they’re on the phone with the principal 🙂 Thanks, Becca! I think this is one of my favorites!
Rosi Hollinbeck says
This is a great addition to your list of skills. I can see where this would be really useful. Thanks!
BECCA PUGLISI says
I agree that talents and skills can add dimension to characters, as well as provide necessary tools (or even roadblocks) to achieving their goals. Happy to have you here, MR!
Marcy McKay says
Terrific, Becca. What’s so great about the entire “What Killed it For Me” series is your helping us make our characters far beyond one-dimensional status and into real people that our readers love. Wonderful. Thank you!
BECCA PUGLISI says
It’s my pleasure, Marcy. I truly believe that characters are what pull us into a story and keep us connected, so getting them right is crucial :).
Marcy McKay says
I agree — it’s all about the people!
Traci Kenworth says
This would be a cool skill to have.
Great tip Becca, and I’m happy to have found your blog!
This post is an excellent reminder that in our quest to develop character, we cannot stop with the character’s thoughts and feelings; we need to consider the next dimension of their personality – their interests and abilities either already possessed or yet to be discovered. It is this next level of development that can be tricky to achieve but can ultimately produce a fully realized character versus a one-dimensional character that readers can never truly come to know or appreciate as we intended.