May 24, 2019, 11:11:50 PM

------------------------------------------

If you have Login Problems Use the Login in Top Menu Bar


------------------------------------------
If you have a problem registering here, Leave a msg at our FB Page >> Here.

Plz Don't use Hotmail to Register. You might not receive Activation mail. Use Other free mail provider like Gmail or Yahoo.






Author Topic: How do you write characters that are smarter than yourself?  (Read 573 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline legomaestro

  • High Chancellor of Righteousness
  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 19362
  • Gender: Male
  • real life has wack graphics
    • View Profile
How do you write characters that are smarter than yourself?
« on: December 09, 2018, 10:23:06 AM »
In the context of comics, manga and anime, how do you write characters who are almost supernaturally smart?




I've been catching up to all shows from the CW Arrowverse and am on the latest season of Supergirl. Supergirl, to be honest, is a show that I had very negative opinions of at the start. But it's grown on me over time.

Lex Luthor is always referenced, and the Tech-Guy of the season is also someone with super intelligence - He has all the tics and stuff of a 'smart' person, but how do you show someone's intelligence in manga and anime convincingly? How do you have them speak in a way that convinces a smart reader that you know what you're talking about? Do you just throw big numbers around or is there something else you do?


Offline Coryn

  • Director of the MR Science Division
  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 20512
  • Gender: Male
  • Secretly a 13 year old girl.
    • View Profile
Re: How do you write characters that are smarter than yourself?
« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2018, 12:03:52 PM »
I swear, we used to have a topic with exactly this same title, but I just searched a 28 pages of this board with no luck, so maybe I've just lost it.

Anyway, the first step is to assume you can't write a character that's smarter than you. I know that sounds silly but I'm sure that's were 90 percent of the hang up is. Just imagine smart characters being portrayed in movies. What's his face definitely isn't as smart as Stephen Hawking, but he sure did play the role.

Next is to stop thinking that a smart person is going to have a smart person personality. That doesn't exist. People who are smart can have any kind of personality imaginable. Always start with a personality, then work your way backwards. If a smart character has a *censored* personality, then you might as well replace them with a search bar because all they're going to become is a mouth that spits out information.

Next, realize that a smart person doesn't have to act smart all the time. A lot of smart people act just like you and I during any given moment. The smart aspect only kicks in when something related to what they're smart in is happening.

Finally, stop using the word "smart" entirely. Erase it from your vocabulary. It's a worthless, reductive word that comes far short of actually describing what humans perceive as being intelligent.

Let me explain.

There's really no difference in intelligence between you, me, and the other 7.6 billion people on the planet (excepting obvious special cases). Some people know more about certain subjects than others, sure, but that is not a measurement of how "intelligent" someone is. That's just a tally of ignorance. There's a lot of stuff that I know that you don't know. There's a lot of stuff that you know that I don't know. It doesn't mean one of us is "smarter" than the other. It just means we have had different experiences than the other.

"But Coryn!" You may be thinking. "I always had a hard time learning in school, while the kids are next to me always got straight A's! Obviously they were smart right?" Well you would be wrong! Again, we all share the same capacity to learn (a good a definition for intelligence as I've ever seen). The difference between you and the honor student next to you isn't that your capacity to learn differed, but that they were suited to learning in the single environment public school sets up for us to learn in, and you weren't. That doesn't mean you're less intelligent. It just means that sitting in a desk and repeating whatever the teacher told you back to them is not the optimal way for you to learn.

The easiest way to understand this, is through what we've all heard before. "Some people learn by hearing, some people learn by doing." Personally, you can demonstrate something to me a 1000 times, but until I get in there and do it myself, it's never going to sink in.

So okay, I know none of that really answered the question you were asking directly, but it's all necessary to understand in order to write a 'human', which is ultimately what we're all going for here.

Will review stories upon request. My latest arc: http://goo.gl/KYgsfF

Offline 50 Words for Paipis

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2566
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: How do you write characters that are smarter than yourself?
« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2018, 04:04:37 PM »
As far as intellectual ability, I'll refer to Jackie Chan when speaking of his own physical prowess displayed in his films: "You [say] 'Wow, Jackie's good.' It's not good. You can do it. Except, do you have the patience or not?" It's obvious to us that it's very good. But he also makes a good point. Given less ability, one could accomplish the same things he accomplishes in a certain amount of takes given more takes. In the realm of actual logical ability, you can theoretically come to the same conclusions your smarter-than-yourself characters come to by just spending more time thinking about it. Sometimes that length of time exceeds what is actually practically possible, so just know your limits.

As far as education level, that's much tougher. You should learn as much as you can about the field in which they're educated, but prioritize the essentials plus a few obscure concepts or facts that only someone educated in the field would know. Most importantly, you should ask someone in that field to review it to make sure your info is accurate and its delivery is natural.

Offline Coryn

  • Director of the MR Science Division
  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 20512
  • Gender: Male
  • Secretly a 13 year old girl.
    • View Profile
Re: How do you write characters that are smarter than yourself?
« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2018, 05:29:20 PM »
Yes, Paipis has brought up an excellent point there. Research is always key. If you really want to sell a character that has a knowledge base about a real life subject, you need to get out there, and at least read some wikipedia articles on it. If it's all pseudo science bull*censored* of course, then you just need to be a good bull*censored*ter.

Research of course is the gateway to being a believable writer anyway, but especially in this situation

Will review stories upon request. My latest arc: http://goo.gl/KYgsfF

Offline legomaestro

  • High Chancellor of Righteousness
  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 19362
  • Gender: Male
  • real life has wack graphics
    • View Profile
Re: How do you write characters that are smarter than yourself?
« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2018, 06:26:59 PM »
I'm pretty sure I or someone else asked this on the Writers' Discussion board but yeah asked it again.

Research I'll definitely do, but I was just interested in your opinions on that front. I've never asked an expert about any facts I needed checking, but I hope to try that out once in my life at least to make my scripts feel legit.

And Coryn on what ye said that reminds me of this meme:




Offline Coryn

  • Director of the MR Science Division
  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 20512
  • Gender: Male
  • Secretly a 13 year old girl.
    • View Profile
Re: How do you write characters that are smarter than yourself?
« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2018, 06:51:59 PM »
Definitely my point. Smart people only tend to be truly knowledgeable in specific fields. You will certainly have your share of polymaths who are interested in multiple subjects (heyoh), but they will only be truly versed in one or two. That's just from human time constraints and what not. Like, I sure would like to go back to college and get a bunch of different degrees. That sounds great, but I have neither the time nor cash to do so.

As far as fact checking goes, it can be amazing how much you just miss on a subject because you don't realize it needs to be included in the first place. It's less a matter of getting things wrong, and more just missing things entirely because you don't know they exist. Research helps of course, but you rarely need to go so in depth. Most of the time, you just need to get what you need specifically, and then you can move on.

That being said, maybe it would be cool if we had a topic where people could list what they are specifically qualified to be experts on, that we could all use as a reference. For instance, I might be able to list

1. Small town life
2. Kansas
3. State college
4. Buildings

etc, etc, etc. A reference for life experience and knowledge that could be tapped from willing participants.

Will review stories upon request. My latest arc: http://goo.gl/KYgsfF

Offline legomaestro

  • High Chancellor of Righteousness
  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 19362
  • Gender: Male
  • real life has wack graphics
    • View Profile
Re: How do you write characters that are smarter than yourself?
« Reply #6 on: December 09, 2018, 07:20:42 PM »
Yeah I can go for that. It's actually something I want to ask for Japanese towns for sure, but 'Murica interests me quite a bit when it comes to story settings for sure.

Online Lord Kesashi

  • The Cel Shader
  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 470
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: How do you write characters that are smarter than yourself?
« Reply #7 on: December 14, 2018, 04:56:32 AM »
Everything that you do in storytelling is an illusion. You can easily write about characters who have traits that you don't all the time. Different genders, different backgrounds, supernatural powers.

It's important you define what it means to be "Smart". Smart is a blanket term describing two sets of brain activity that typically lead to major advantages against other humans. Basically, Memorization and Problem Solving (critical thinking). Typically people also consider having a large body of knowledge or experience "smart" but all that easily falls under memorization because if you forget your experiences, they can't help you. Having a character memorize complex patterns would be easy to write, you simply have them remember a complex pattern where other characters or maybe even the reader couldn't memorize it. Or have a character who suddenly corrects another character on an obscure topic, for instance ". . . actually the wives of crusaders never did that. . . "

Problem solving skill seems complex because we think we need to solve the problem the same way the character would. You can handle this easily through 1 of two ways.

1.) Create the solution first, then create the problem. Work backwards from the solution until it becomes more obscure. This way you'll know the solution and all the steps you need to take to solve it. You could have a character come to the solution through very few hints and he would appear to be very smart.

2.) Create the problem first, then brainstorm through possible solutions until you find one that works. Even if it takes you a week to figure out the solution, the character will seem smart for figuring it out in seconds. This way you could use time to your advantage to create the illusion of smart character. You could even gauge just how smart this character is supposed to be by how much faster he comes to the same conclusion.

Offline Operative13

  • Self-Proclaimed Writer and Anime Enthusiast
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1065
  • Writer of Caesarea
    • View Profile
Re: How do you write characters that are smarter than yourself?
« Reply #8 on: December 14, 2018, 07:55:34 AM »
Ah yes, this is what our years taking Literature classes have amounted to  :D This reminds me of the great Arthur Conan Doyle's famous detective, Sherlock Holmes, and in particular when I was forced to read a rather dry Hound of the Baskervilles as part of that class.

Yes, Sherlock Holmes is revered to be an S-Class detective by the way in which he conducts his investigative business and seemingly knows everything just by a glance, but in reality he appears that way because he knows what he's doing. There's a difference between knowing what one is doing and just doing something. Smart characters appear smart because they have a clear and concise methodology in which they work. Why do they suspect this person? Because of such and such. What was the decisive evidence? This and that.

It's really not about trying to impress people with near-supernatural talent such as photographic memory or encyclopedic omniscience when it comes to smart people, but rather piecing together the steps, the puzzle, in how they arrived to their conclusion. In some ways, it's much like writing the story itself, only you're writing about a character's thought process and not the plot.

This, my point comes full circle. If you have a good idea how to write plot and how you can piece good high points and low points within a story, you can write a smart character as well. It's the same idea, but in different context.
“To give of oneself is the noblest of all acts.”