Talents and Skills Thesaurus Entry: Lip-Reading

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. 



Courtney Rhodes @ Creative Commons

Description: The ability to read other peoples’ lips in order to understand what’s being said

Beneficial Strengths or Abilities: good vision

Character Traits Suited for this Skill or Talent: focused, persistent, determined, observant, discerning

Required Resources and Training: Lip-reading is a skill that many hearing impaired individuals are able to do with accuracy. Their ability comes from a lifetime spent…

Associated Stereotypes: those with impaired hearing

Associated Perceptions: When portrayed in fiction, lip-reading is often 100% accurate. But there are many factors that can make lip-reading difficult: the position of the person being read, the person moving around and making it difficult to see their lips, an obstruction that blocks the lips (a raised hand, food being brought to the mouth, someone …

Scenarios Where this Skill Might be Useful: For most story purposes, the lip-reader would want to be able to use his skill without being noticed, so it would be necessary for him to be able to do so from a distance. To meet this need, he might have excellent vision or utilize binoculars or a scope.

  • When a spy needs to gain information while remaining unnoticed
  • When someone wants to know what a peer or love interest thinks about her…

Resources for Further Information:

Lip-reading Training Course and Games

Beginner’s Guide to Lip Reading

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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Bish Denham
5 years ago

I know you don’t do awards, and such, but there’s one for Angela on my blog. I just can’t help myself.

5 years ago
Reply to  Bish Denham

Bish you are so good to me–thank you!

:Donna Marie
5 years ago

I played the first round of the game on that one site and got the full score 🙂 It was fun! The thing I think of, in everyday life, is the times we, mouth words to someone, which is essentially the same things, though on a different level, and often accompanied by hand gestures and the person looking directly at you. Great stuff, as always, Becca 🙂

Melissa Sugar
5 years ago

Excellent post, as usual, with real and useful information and knowledge. Many people have probably never even considered lip reading as a strength or attribute. My 16 year old daughter lost her hearing at about 18 months, after barely surviving meningitis. Unfortunately, her two triplet sisters did not survive. Blake lost her hearing as a result of the medicine genamyacin ( misspelled ) that was necessary to keep her alive.

Blake received a cochlea implant at the age of two and became a proficient lip reader. I can remembers times when her dad and I would have to quiet her in a Resturant, or other public venue, when she would shout ( she had not yet learned to control to volume of her voice . Blake would point and holler things like, “That man just told his wife that it is over ,” or ” That girl is being mean to her fiends.” Her teachers described her lip reading as a nightmare in the classroom .

Over time, we were able to pick up on the lip reading skill and i have to admit, shamefully , that it is fun to be able to read lips. I do, however, recognize that if misused , it can be an invasion of privacy . This is something we taught our daughter early on . I can’t vouch that She always follows my advice. I feel
Certain that as a teen she probably uses her “Skill,” inappropritely at times .

I think this would be an incredble trait or strength for a fictional character . I never would have thought of it, but ya’ll never fail to impress me with your continued addition of unique traits and skills and strengths.

Thanks for sharing lip reading as a cool and different skill for a character to possess .

Matrt Ramirez
Matrt Ramirez
5 years ago

Love the reading lips trait!! Now that’s unique!