Character Talents and Skills: Talking with the Dead

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 communicate with those who have passed on, and if asked, convey messages between the living and dead

Beneficial Strengths or Abilities: being a qualified medium (having the ability to tune into the specific spirit energy of a person to see the past, present and future) or having strong psychic and/or intuitive abilities, living a clean lifestyle to become more receptive…

Character Traits Suited for this Skill or Talent: compassion, empathy, intuitive, focused, relaxed, intelligent, intrepid…

Required Resources and Training: while a certain amount of this ability would come from a natural talent, learning how to focus that talent would likely require a mentor (another medium) who could guide the character in learning meditation and focusing skills. A quiet environment (a place of peace) would help one learn this focus and how to…

Associated Stereotypes and Perceptions:

  • Some believe that mediums and psychics are real, others do not. Of those that do, it is widely accepted that while true mediums exist, so do frauds

Scenarios Where this Skill Might be Useful:

  • speaking with past generations to collect their knowledge
  • having the deceased’s help regarding an event that caused great disruption (a king who died under mysterious circumstances, finding the location of an important document or will, or getting details from a girl who was kidnapped and murdered to find her body or track down her killer, etc.)
  • personal guidance in spiritual matters and gaining insight on what will come after death…

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!


Image: PeterDargatz @Pixabay


Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, a portal to powerful, innovative tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
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[…] Characters seemed to be on the minds of many bloggers this week. Robin Patchen gives some good tips about showing characters’ emotions, while KM Weiland suggests a quick way to help show and not tell what your characters are feeling, and Amanda Patterson relates 37 ways to write about anger. James Scott Bell discusses how to show what your characters think. Angela Ackerman discusses using a special character talent — talking with the dead. […]


[…] Character Talents and Skills: Talking with the Dead – WRITERS HELPING WRITERS™ […]

:Donna Marie
5 years ago

Because of my belief system, I already know this is one “talent” I’ll never use in fiction! It does make for good fiction, though, when done well. It was fantastic in Harry Potter!

Traci Kenworth
5 years ago

A spooky one!! Right up my alley!!

Nat Russo
5 years ago

Great article, Angela! As a person who writes about necromancers, this is a topic near and dear to my heart. 🙂

My version of necromancy in “Necromancer Awakening”, however, is a little different than the version fantasy readers usually encounter. The undead are living in a form of purgatory and require the services of a necromancer to “purify” them before they can move on in the afterlife. The necromancer achieves this by living that person’s life in the span of a moment, which gives them the perspective they need to form some sort of judgement about the character of the undead person in question.

Incidentally, I now have the full set of thesauri and recommend them as often as possible. They’ve truly made me a better writer!