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