Character Traits Thesaurus: Talented

Definition: a marked innate ability

Causes: a trait one is born with, exposure to many different experiences and activities, a certain amount of dedication to honing the ability (for it to develop into a gift)

Characters in Literature: Peeta and Katniss, The Hunger Games (art/cake decorating and archery); Sam, The Lord of the Rings (gardening)

Positives: Talents make people well-rounded; they add dimension. With so many talents to choose from, they provide innumerable opportunities for creating unique characters. It is their talents, along with their abilities, that make our characters valuable in group and social settings by giving them something to offer, whether they be practical (cooking, sewing, carpentry) or entertaining (singing, painting, acting) in nature.

Negatives: Talented people can come across as smug, disdainful, and over-confident. They are often envied for their abilities, and can easily become targets. Those with talents might wonder whether people are showing true interest in them for who they are, or only because of their abilities. As such, it's not uncommon for very talented people to be insecure, untrusting, and lonely.

Common Portrayals: artists, musicians, athletes, fashion designers, chefs, dancers, authors, actors

Cliches to Avoid: the high school trifecta (talented, good-looking, and smart); the spoiled, entitled Talent; tortured artists; the Talent who is so into his gift, he's completely out of touch with reality

Twists on the Traditional Talent: 
  • Talent, by definition, is at least somewhat inborn. The grain is talent is there, but it is nurtured into fruition by hard work and dedication. How about the talent who really doesn't have to work at it? This could provide some interesting conflict between him and his peers.
  • Instead of talent being inborn, place your character in a society where talent can be chosen. See where that takes you.
  • Talents are often strategically chosen to help a character achieve his goal. But what if a character's talent is what makes success impossible? 

Conflicting Characteristics to make your Talent unique or more interesting: lazy, dumb, mediocre, clumsy, cruel, dishonest


Stina Lindenblatt said...

Another great post, ladies!

I'm going to start working on my characterizations soon. Now I have a great list of traits to work from. :D

Traci Kenworth said...

Brilliant as always!! Love the Peeta,
Katniss, Sam,references. I was trying to think if I I do have a talented
character in my current wip and I do!!
An artist. This will come in handy.

Martha Ramirez said...

Aw love this post! What a pefect pic to describe talented.
I grew up on MJ :)

Carrie Butler said...

Now this is a character trait I wouldn't mind having! *grins*

Carol Riggs said...

Good stuff! Nice reminders and descriptions. And thank you, now I have "Billy Jean, is not my lover..." going through my head. LOL

The Golden Eagle said...

Imagine what would happen if a character "chose" the wrong talent--now that could end badly!

Another interesting post. :)

Laura Pauling said...

What a terrific picture to show your point. When I think pure talent, I think Michael jackson! Thanks!

Jemi Fraser said...

Great list! I think I need to add a talent of some kind to my male MC...

Angela Ackerman said...

I think this one is my favorite so far--there's so much that can be done with it. Great twists, Becca!


Matthew MacNish said...

I so love that you went with Samwise Gamgee's gardening. I literally never would have thought of that.

Kelly Hashway said...

Great post. Every character has a talent. I love when they discover one they didn't know they had.

Sophia Chang said...

Your Thesaurus series is simply amazing. Thank you so much for this; I'm combing it now for NaNoWriMo :)

Christopher said...

The part where you state"But what if a character's talent is what makes success impossible?"

That is my exact character's problem and it is psychological. Without going into my story and what it is about. It all has to do with his past. Success actually is his greatest fear for a specific reason.


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