13.43: Characters Who Are Smarter Than You Are

Your Hosts: Howard, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Amal

Many of us write characters who know more than we know, and/or who think faster than we do. Writing those characters is tricky. In this episode we talk about our own tricks, and the tricks we’ve seen others use.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson.


Time is your friend. Write a solution to one of your characters’ problems off the top of your head. Spend a week thinking about it and researching it. During that week write down all the new solutions that come to you. Compile the entire set of solutions and review them to see just how good a friend time can be.

4 thoughts on “13.43: Characters Who Are Smarter Than You Are”

  1. Another research source is this new book.
    Putting the Science in Fiction: Expert Advice for Writing with Authenticity in Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Other Genres, edited by Dan Koboldt.
    I’m not smart enough to be a contributor but I have met one of them.

  2. The difference between thriller and mystery? That’s simple:

    In a mystery, someone is dead and Holmes has to figure out whodunit.

    In a thriller, someone is trying to kill Holmes, and he has to figure out who, why, and how to stop them.

  3. This week, Writing Excuses shook things up, so Howard, Mary, Dan, and Amal (not a time traveling super spy) sat down and talked about how to tackle writing characters who are smarter (cleverer, able to do math, confident… more!) than you are. What tricks, what methods, how do you convince the reader that this is one smart cookie? Brainstorming, pacing, cleaning up brain vomit, mysteries, thrillers, even heists get mixed in, before they reveal the monster… read all about it, in the transcript now in the archive or over here:


Comments are closed.