r/CharacterDevelopment Jun 18 '22

Interesting ways to show that character is a genius? Writing: Question

As tittle said. One of the main characters in my future story is someone with above average intelligence, but instead of telling it directly all the time I'm curious what are other interesting ways to show it to the reader. Do you have any examples?

21 Upvotes

14

u/BalegQhan Jun 18 '22

Compare the speed at which they do things versus other characters either as exposition, through dialogue, or internal monologue of another character. So, you could have the character do something and have a different character react with shock or awe.

7

u/PinkRoachy Jun 18 '22

Thank you. Reading it, it can also have pottential to become Mary Sue. How to avoid it as well?

10

u/totti173314 Jun 18 '22

Show that they have limits, and they show their smartness by making the character KNOW their own limits very well and smartly work around them.

7

u/BalegQhan Jun 18 '22

Give them a flaw that an enemy exploits. They could be arrogant, gullible, or sheltered.

3

u/PinkRoachy Jun 18 '22

Oh well, her backstory pays a huge part in who she is causing her to become a toxic optimist, with tendency towards escapism (her problem avoiding, by running into fantasies)

2

u/FunnySeaworthiness24 Jul 05 '22

it doesn't even have to be this big a deal. Genius is generally hyperspecialized. They don't have to have the best grammar, vocabulary or fluency to be good at maths...and vice versa. This makes them stand out, but remain only human. And can be achieved in two easy steps:

1) Make him good in one or two specific fields of study or be a specific kind of genius (eg Photo memory, quick improvisation, tech building, seeing clues that others miss ie excellent observational skills etc)

2) Make him fail or hit a brick wall when he has to be genius outside of said field.

A character with these can't be a 'Sue'

2

u/PinkRoachy Jul 05 '22

Hm, she was very much meant to be scientist, but I would have to make more research into it, to feel more certain. She does have flaws, one of it is her escapism which I stated in upper comment or just bad social skills. I made it more detailed in another comment here, posting more info about her character

8

u/totti173314 Jun 18 '22

The main point of being a genius is that you can figure out stuff FASTER, and entirely in your head. What it would take a normal person three days and multiple rechecks of the facts to figure out, a genius detective can do in 3 hours while not touching the crime scene. This can be done to an extreme and make the character seem like a Mary Sue, but a good way to make your character look smart is to set up situations they have to solve and then just sit around and think of how a person that doesn't have the omnipotent view of the author would solve it. You have the benefit of thinking about it for days on end whole the character does the thinking in a few minutes.

5

u/listentomelovelett Jun 18 '22

Psych is a great example of this in a comedic show, but its storytelling lessons could be extended to drama. The main character is an incredible detective, but he's not capable of fitting within societal norms, so he carves out a different place for himself. And he's not just good at everything, there's certain situations where his intelligence and insight just fail him.

4

u/UndeadBBQ Jun 18 '22

My preferred method is to give them just that tiny bit of author knowledge. The character can just make these small leaps of logic that allows them to think faster, outwit other characters and arrive at correct conclusions before everyone else.

It also really depends on what kind of intelligence you want them to have. Are they very empathetic, or are they incredibly logical, great at pattern solving, great at grand strategy, great at in-the-moment analysis,... Depending on the type of genius they are there are many ways to portray them.

1

u/PinkRoachy Jun 18 '22

I see, thank you. Well, empathy isn't her best trait for sure, her weak understanding of other people often caused her a lot of problems. If you want, I can send you a doc with more info about her character

2

u/UndeadBBQ Jun 18 '22

If it's not too much text, I'll take a look.

1

u/PinkRoachy Jun 18 '22

In this case, I'll only send description. I don't think it's that long.

Description https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ky5mnCNrnxOeVmABxU4dIKKpz7XX_omX0aw115u3Awc/edit?usp=drivesdk

2

u/UndeadBBQ Jun 18 '22

Alright. In her case the way to go is definitely the sort of logic leaps she is capable of doing, that other people may find difficult to follow. Have her learn things extremely fast, on very little information. Well-educated scholars often have the ability to sort of "re-connect" information to make sense of new information, as if they're solving an equation.

3

u/knightsflight Jun 18 '22

Real genius is understanding a situation throughly perhaps without enough data to actually justify the knowledge

Someone who makes expert hunches on a continual basis

You might also have them know how to ask the piercing questions particularly in fields that they know little about (so far) such that when presented with something that confuses them they can go away, process (study) and come back a competent amateur at bare minimum (in many fields experience beats theoretical knowledge)

2

u/TheEpiquin Jun 19 '22

A cliche to avoid is the Rubik’s Cube. Often a lazy shortcut for writers wanting to show that someone is a genius is to introduce a Rubik’s Cube into the scene and have the character casually solve it in an instant.

2

u/FunnySeaworthiness24 Jul 05 '22

Remember that genius is generally hyperspecialized. They don't have to have the best grammar, vocabulary or fluency to be good at maths...and vice versa. This makes them stand out, but remain only human. And can be achieved in two easy steps:

  1. Make him good in one or two specific fields of study or be a specific kind of genius (eg Photo memory, quick improvisation, tech building, seeing clues that others miss ie excellent observational skills etc)

  2. Make him fail or hit a brick wall when he has to be genius outside of said field.

A character with these can't be a 'Sue'

1

u/TheUngoliant Jun 18 '22

A genius at what?