What writer has never been tempted to create a brilliant character, whose intelligence and cunning puts the villain of the day to shame.
Or a highly intelligent character who is the villain of the day.
A character with long and complicated plans that are, however, calculated down to the smallest of details.
Those characters are great fun to read about – just look at the huge success of Sherlock Holmes – but they are not as enjoyable to write.
In fact, unfortunately, the character’s ingenious plans are not invented by the character.
But the writer.
It is the writer who often finds himself having to write a character who is smarter than he is.
In this article, you will learn how to write a genius character that will enable you to attract the most curious readers. Readers who will aspire to become the person you invent.
What does it mean to be a genius?
The word ‘genius’ has no precise definition.
A genius is anyone who shows extreme ability and intelligence in any field.
A highly intelligent person is someone who is often right, not because of luck, but because they were either born with a talent or have developed a talent.
This can be mathematics, science, writing, etc.
Different types of intelligence
The character you are writing may indeed be a ‘genius’ but what is the definition you are giving to that word?
Someone can be called highly intelligent for many reasons:
- he is an excellent observer, Sherlock Holmes falls into this category. Thanks to his abnormal attention to detail he is able to make assumptions that turn out to be correct (of course he is always right because you, writer, decide he is always right).
- he has a very good memory, a character with a very good memory is able to remember perfectly a speech, a particular expression, which will help him solve his problem, a kind of genius not to be underestimated in storytelling.
- He is good with words, he knows how to manipulate people to get what he wants. He can turn the tables in his favour.
- He is good with scientific subjects. This character uses mathematics and often chemistry in his favour. Thanks to their knowledge in these subjects they are able to devise exact and (almost) infallible plans.
What made them what they are?
Just as there are many kinds of genius, there are many reasons why a character might have developed that kind of intelligence.
Were they simply born that way?
Did they grow up surrounded by geniuses so they had to adapt?
Are they shy and quiet so they developed a greater sense of observation?
The reason may be simple but if you put a bit of effort into it you can make the character much better and more alive.
Definitely read Sherlock Holmes
Literature is full of geniuses, precisely because there are various types of intelligence.
Despite this, Sherlock Holmes still remains an excellent example for writers who want to write a genius character.
How to make him smarter
There is a very quick and easy way to make your character look smarter. Increase the speed.
An intelligent person has a mind that works quickly, in a short time they are able to think of plans, ideas, jokes that would have taken another person much longer.
But here fortunately we are talking about writing. So even though your character has limited time, you are free to take your time to think of his next plan or his next dialogue.
You have the reins of the story and you have an immensity of time to think of strategic plans, your readers will only see a character who has a brilliant idea instantly. And as a result they will think, “Wow brilliant!”.
You have internet, your characters don’t
Not only do you have all the time in the world, you also have endless information to take inspiration from.
The internet has made it much easier to write a more genius character than you, because even if you know something with just a few clicks you can know everything you need.
You will have used sources to get that information but your character will have fished it out of his personal knowledge. And of course this will make him appear intelligent and informed.
Don’t say a character is clever, show it
In general, when it comes to writing a book, you can’t just tell the story, you have to show it. Show, don’t tell.
Personally, I find it irritating when a writer constantly tells me, through other characters, that his protagonist is super smart.
I don’t need to be told, I want to be shown his intelligence.
I want to be shown how he talks, how he thinks, how he relates to others, what it is that makes him special.
Give his intelligence limits, give him faults
Intelligence undoubtedly helps a lot in many areas of life.
But it does not make one perfect.
Therefore, even if you create a genius character who succeeds in tackling many challenges through his resources, he too must have flaws.
Maybe he is super smart in school subjects but a landslide at socialising?
Maybe he focuses too much on details and so a bigger plan confuses him?
Does he think he is smarter than others and therefore gets cheated?
Does he like to think about complicated things so a simple plan would confuse him?
There are so many flaws that come from being brilliant in a subject, precisely because no one can be perfect, not even your beloved characters.
The article ends here I hope it has helped you on your writing journey, if you want more writing tips subscribe to the newsletter and follow the blog on Pinterest so you don’t miss any new articles!
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