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: having a natural talent for music in one or more of its forms: singing, playing musical instruments, composing, conducting, etc.
Beneficial Strengths or Abilities: having an ear for pitch; being able to hear parts, as opposed to only melodies; being able to recreate a piece of music once it has been heard; having a basic understanding of music theory
Character Traits Suited for this Skill or Talent: analytical, creative, disciplined, focused, industrious, inspirational…
Required Resources and Training: When it comes to musicality, many people are born with a bent in that direction; there definitely can be a genetic component. This bent is often developed by frequent exposure to music.
Formal training in the form of lessons, classes, and schools that specialize in the arts has…
Associated Stereotypes: child prodigies, idiot savants, talented children who are driven by obsessive or controlling stage parents
Associated Perceptions: gifted musicians being socially awkward
Scenarios Where this Skill Might be Useful:
- When the adult caregiver is unable to work and the family needs money
- In a culture where the arts are highly valued
- In a society where musicality is rare…
Resources for Further Information: Musicality: Instinct or Acquired Skill?
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.
Elise Edmonds says
Interesting concept for a talent – immediately made me think of Kvothe in Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind.
This one’s actually a mixed blessing, and not in the way you’d expect. You don’t (usually) have to deal with obsessive parents or horribly written parts on the radio. But when you have Solsbury Hill (written in 7/4 because the universe hates me) stuck in your head, it’s not going away, you hear every note because your brain is perfectly capable of simulating them (instead of, say, a simple melody you could ignore) and therefore refuses to do anything less, and any other song that you hear while it’s there will sound out of time. 7/4 is a horrible time signature.
Beth Overmyer says
Great entry, Becca! I wish I had been born with that bent, but alas! The MC from my MG book (The Disorderlies) has an artistic ability. Maybe I should look for an entry of yours on that!
fran w says
Muscians also need to create music. I read a novel once where a proffessional violinist ended up back in medievel time without her violin; the Author didn’t relay the heartache this would have caused her. She also would have been learning another instrument to keep sane. As a musician it was frustrating to read this lack of depth or reality of the character.
Traci Kenworth says
I can sing but not play anything. I sometimes over the years wanted to play the piano or a violin but I could never afford either.