Writing the Competence Kink

The competence kink is the idea that we’re attracted to people who demonstrate incredible talent. It’s often used in romance writing, but it also appears in other genres. Here are a few ideas for working with this trope:


  • Who’s got it? Common competence kink careers include musician, soldier/fighter, athlete, spy, magician, computer tech, artist, doctor/surgeon, detective, dancer, and cook. On the darker side, safe-crackers, thieves, con artists, assassins, and hackers. Those who wield power can really set off the competence kink (for better or worse), so royalty, political leaders, military heads, and mob bosses.


  • One weird trick. An ordinary character might manifest one main mojo: counting cards, a photographic memory, perfect pitch, or *ahem* being good in bed; being lucky, being trusted by wild animals, or finding lost objects. It is not always the case that the character has any idea how or why it works.


  • Phenomenal cosmic powers. Paranormal competence kink can include flying and telekinesis; enhanced strength, senses, and reflexes; psychic abilities; or the power to heal. Often non-human or partially human characters sport a few of these.


  • Not all heroes wear capes. Some skills are stealthy or even shocking. A character could surprise everyone with their ability to speak several languages, scale a wall without ropes, or play a song on the piano after hearing it once. A shy person might be good fighter, or an athlete a master at chess.


  • What, like it’s hard? One favorite variation of this trope is the character who doesn’t realize that their ability is impressive, thinking that everyone instinctively knows how to juggle six objects or throw their voice. Or you know, get into Harvard Law.

Questions? Comments? Hit me up on my social media. Looking for ideas? Get some weird writing prompts.

Sign up for my free monthly newsletter and never miss a writing article! Or subscribe by RSS