How To Write Characters Who Are Smarter Than You (6 Tips)

In this post, we go over several tips on how to write characters who are smarter than you, the storyteller.

There are a variety of ways to show off a character's intelligence. This can be shown through wit, resourcefulness, logical thinking, observations, and being plain knowledgeable.

Here are several ways to characterize a smart character:

6 Tips on How To Write Characters Who Are Smarter Than You

Intelligence quality can be characterized in many ways: witty, resourceful, logical, observant, or knowledgeable. Remember that a character can have some characteristics while lacking others:

Take Time To Create Witty Remarks

One way to make your character come off as brilliant is by taking the time to create very clever, witty remarks for when they banter or converse with other characters. You can use this wit to show off the quick mental acuity your character has when it comes to social, or even physical, situations.

Give Your Character feats of Intelligence

By giving your character a challenge that the majority of people can't accomplish, you can give your character the appearance of super-intelligence by having them solve the problem within minutes or even moments.

"I can't solve this darned puzzle! We've all been working on it for months." - Scientist

"Here, let me have a go at it..." - The Hero

"Good luck, we haven't been able to—" Scientist

"Done."

"How did you do it so quickly?"

"It was really quite easy when you think about it." - The Hero

how-to-write-characters-who-are-smarter-than-you

Have Your Character Reflect Real-Life Knowledge

People who are very intelligent tend to make comparisons when they speak. By having your character make comparisons between general knowledge and specialized knowledge that makes sense, you can give the audience the impression that your character is extremely smart.

For example, if you can have your character reference a car to help explain how rocket ship propulsion works AND the information is accurate in real-life, experts in-the-know will recognize your character's intelligence and give credit where it's due.

Another, somewhat relevant example from Star Wars:

Luke: It's not impossible. I used to bullseye womp rats in my T-16 back home, they're not much bigger than two meters. (In reference to dropping an explosive in a ventilation shaft)

Let Your Character Correct Others

Allow your astute character to correct another character. For example, if another character has a realistic misconception, let your genius character be the one to debunk it. Keep in mind that this does not have to be done condescendingly.

Have Your Character Astutely Predict Others

Give your astute character a keen understanding of the other characters and a keen sense of foresight. You may not be a genius, but as the author, you understand the characters and plot better than anyone else. Use this to your advantage, and let your character's astute personality make connections that others do not.

Have a Character Who Values Information

Make your intelligent character value knowledge. Make them interested. Make them suspicious. Demonstrate their attempts to improve their critical thinking skills. Their pursuit of intelligence will most likely make them appear smarter, or at least very dedicated.

Here are resources I recommend to get more in-depth knowledge

Storytelling 101 teaches you how to write compelling stories worthy of commercial success. This is best for screenwriters, novelists, filmmakers, videogame writers and storytellers.

Children’s Books 101 teaches you how to write stories that children will love. This is best for aspiring children’s book authors and storytellers.

Owl AI is the revolutionary AI-powered content production platform that helps storytellers, writers, and bloggers of all subject matter easily create highly-polished content.

Success, Money & Mindset Subliminal is a self-hypnosis recording that we recommend to new writers to help with focus, concentration, creativity, and motivation.

Shadow Work Journal: 240 Daily Prompts contains inner work exercises related to relationships, anger, anxiety, self-love, healing trauma, abandonment issues, depression, forgiveness, etc.

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