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: also known as ventriloquism; the ability to change one’s voice to make it appear to be coming from someone or somewhere else
Interesting Origins: This ability was originally involved in religious practices. Ancient Greeks believed that the noises that came from one’s stomach were the voices of the unliving, who took up residence there. The ventriloquist was the interpreter of these…
Beneficial Strengths or Abilities: strong core muscles to enable one to breath correctly, good acting chops (since successfully throwing one’s voice relies heavily on listener perception)
Character Traits Suited for this Skill or Talent: disciplined, dedicated, sneaky, manipulative, dramatic, playful
Required Resources and Training: Throwing the voice requires utilizing the right muscles throughout the body, changing the way one typically would speak (via placement of the tongue, lips, etc.), and placing the voice in a different area of the throat than is …
Associated Stereotypes and Perceptions: ventriloquists; fortune tellers and other scammers
Scenarios Where this Skill Might be Useful:
- when one needs to escape or throw an enemy off of one’s trail
- to provide a distraction
- to scare someone…
Similar Talents and Skills: Mimicry
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.
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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.