1. Snoopingaround
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    Snoopingaround Banned

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    How to Write a Character Who is Super Clever

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Snoopingaround, Sep 12, 2011.

    I have only recently begun to seriously consider writing in fiction, as opposed to non-fiction. In the past the idea of writing fiction was not too appealing for me, perhaps because I didn't think I was skilled enough, or maybe because of my general preference for non-fiction essays and history works. But there is a fascinating subject that I have been inspired to explore further, of which there are few if hardly any books on or about. My idea for a book is a little more complicated than maybe most people would have a taste for. In general, I want to explore philosophical questions surrounding the nature of human existence. I would like to create a work that is both intriguing, enlightening and educational. I have discovered that I enjoy presenting facts in my fiction work, scientific, historical, sociological, general trivia, and so on, in the process of the story telling, as well as my own insights into certain things, both philosophical and regarding everyday life. I am at the very earliest beginning stage of starting on a serious work, maybe a full-length book. Given my lack of experience in these matters, I am not looking to create a masterpiece now, but down the line, years later, perhaps I can look at what I produce now and then use it in the future as a rough draft for that future masterpiece.

    Okay, one of my questions about fiction writing is how do you write a character that is 10 times smarter than you are and make it convincing? I am leaning towards a gothic fantasy setting, where one of the characters is the devil. He interacts with the protagonist, and is the key character to the whole story, arguably moreso than my protagonist even. So how do you write the Big D and pull it off convincingly? Thoughts and suggestions?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You have two advantages as a writer. The first is you can start at the conclusion and work backwards. Usually you can deconstruct the logic from the solution more easily than build a solution from scattered clues.

    The other advantage is time. You don't have to come back with the perfect response in a split second. You can work out variations and research possibilities over hours, days, or even weeks. You can also use the additional time to modify conditions to eliminate other possible solutions.
     
  3. JPGriffin
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    JPGriffin Senior Member

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    As Cogito said above^. I saw this thread and immediately thought of Sherlock Holmes. I'm almost absolutely sure that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wasn't able to think as quickly as his quick-witted hero, and his conclusions and observations might have taken minutes to think of, even when Doyle had the observed character already fleshed out in his head. It's a simple matter of planning in such a way- your thoughts can be condensed from hours of plotting and scheming into a simple brilliant statement. To write a clever character takes a clever mind, though, and an organized one at that. It's similar to writing a nonfiction book, where you should have all of the facts and figures in your head before you start, but you control what happens and how people act and react.
     
  4. D-Doc
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    D-Doc Active Member

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    I think for a character like that writing without too many details about its plan would help make it more believable. Since we are only humans we can't comprehend how an all powerful deity would think. We can form vague guesses about its behavior but I think going into depth would ruin it and make it corny. Lovecraft wrote about wrote these sort of concepts very intelligently and convincingly in my opinion (with a few exceptions in some stories, such as At The Mountains Of Madness).
     
  5. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    Read books on clever characters, see the basic archetype. Sherlock Holmes is a good one. I also think Hannibal (Silence of the Lambs) would be a good comparison -- cold, calculating, terrifying and very intelligent.
     
  6. TobiasJames
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    TobiasJames Contributing Member

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    If you are a competent enough writer to construct a complex story in which many plots intertwine, then your 'clever' character can have a handle on everything that's going on. The average reader might be swept along by the myriad twists and turns of your plot, and if there's one "rock" at the centre of it all, unmoved by the machinations of others and pulling the strings to his advantage, he will appear a very clever character.

    And, as Cogito has said, you have the advantage as the writer because you already know everything - so you can transfer this knowledge on to the character. That will always put the character one intellectual step ahead of the reader, who is finding things out for the first time.
     
  7. Excise
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    Excise Member

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    As the mighty Bruce Willis once said, your hero is only as smart as your villain.

    The same goes for any character. While your clever character might not have an antagonist, this does mean that he or she is going to need serious challenges to overcome. Give him very complex problems to solve, surround him with people who are similarly (but not quite) as brilliant, and make him really have to work for his reputation. It's no good if he's outsmarting idiots.

    Consider how Sherlock Holmes appears extra clever when paired with a fairly intelligent Watson.
     
  8. Victoria Baye
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    Victoria Baye Member

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    Read books that feature highly intelligent characters, especially ones written in first person. Being able to get inside their head will help. Also, smart people all think differently, so you're probably going to end up creating an agglomeration of different traits from fictional characters and real people that you know. But basically, when /I/ try to do something like that, I read about a character/person that has a trait that I want my character to have, then once I've read them enough to "know" them I write short pieces in first person from their perspective. I keep doing this until I feel secure enough to thoroughly write about MY character, then I mix them together and spit him out into the pages.
     

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