How to Write a Genius | Teen Ink

How to Write a Genius

December 16, 2014
By WritinGirl PLATINUM, DeKalb, Illinois
WritinGirl PLATINUM, DeKalb, Illinois
20 articles 0 photos 78 comments

Favorite Quote:
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ~Maya Angelou

It’s happened. You had a brilliant plotline involving a genius. But wait! You are not a genius. So, dejectedly, you toss that idea into the trash and start over with something more...manageable. After all, if you’re writing about someone, don’t you technically have to be their intellectual equal? Now I ask you a question; did you know that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, was not as smart as his character, the famous Sherlock Holmes? In fact, he compared himself to Watson, Holme’s sidekick. A very ordinary, non genius. So how did Doyle do it? How do you write someone who is levels smarter than you? Easy. It’s the power a writer has to manipulate.

First, remember that you’re not required to come up with things in the same time frame as your character. What may take you hours, may take him seconds. Spend a few days puzzling on how it actually did happen, but have your character figure it out in a moment. As the author, you have the power to do that. After all, it’s much more impressive for him to come up with a solution on the spot, then spending time analyzing clues.


Use that manipulative power you hold to have your genius “see” things about someone or something that others are baffled by. As the creator, you know what that pot contains, so have your character blurt it out when others are still guessing. Make the reasons as simple as you want. The trick here is more of basic writing skills than smart skills. To make it seem realistic and astounding, it’s up to how you write it, more than how intellectually stunning it is.


Create dumber characters. Seriously, though, even if you weren’t planning on having the genius’s polar opposite, you can still have some things puzzle the other characters that don’t confuse the genius at all. Also, having the other characters draw incorrect conclusions can really pop the genius out. It’s like art--if you want something to be darker, make everything around it lighter.

Research. Yes, you may cringe, but it does help. For example, if you want to include some historical event, research that event and learn interesting facts that your genius can spurt off. The more real the fact the more realistic your character seems. Having your character quote from an extensive knowledge of books they’ve read can also show his brilliance. In this case, though, you would need to know the quote and where it came from, which is another reason why research can be vital towards a developed genius character.


Now pull that story out of the garbage and get to work!

The author's comments:

I recently finished my own book involving a girl genius, so I can relate to your pain and confusion as you begin on this endeavor. But trust me, it's worth it! 

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This article has 2 comments.

on Apr. 16 2015 at 12:07 pm
WritinGirl PLATINUM, DeKalb, Illinois
20 articles 0 photos 78 comments

Favorite Quote:
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ~Maya Angelou

Thank you so much!

Beila BRONZE said...
on Apr. 15 2015 at 9:53 pm
Beila BRONZE, Palo Alto, California
3 articles 0 photos 516 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco." -Mark Twain

This is a great article! I am definitely intimidated by writing characters who I feel are in some way above me, and you've got some strong ideas here about how to manage that. Concise, to the point, and very interesting! Thanks for sharing. :)