on Jami Gold:
Many layers go into the creation of a well-rounded character. We might think of their emotional/internal arc. With Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi’s fantastic Thesaurus books in hand, we might think about their backstory wound or their positive and negative traits. Or we might think about their backstory, voice, or false beliefs.
Often, however, writers tend to consider figuring out whether their characters have any talents or skills as secondary—if they think about it at all. In fact, we’ve probably all read stories where it seemed the the author gave the character a talent or skill only because they needed to know how to do something for plot reasons (such as if the author wrote themselves into a corner).
Because of that all-too-common plot-contrivance approach, giving our characters anytalents or skills can seem like bad writing. Either those talents or skills are needed oh-so-conveniently by the plot, or they feel like they’re irrelevant and a waste of words.
Is there a middle path? One where our characters can have the additional layers of real-world talents or skills (making them more realistic and relatable) but also manage to sidestep the too-convenient feeling of it being simply a plot necessity, lacking any other connections to the story?