Definition: brainy, clever, intellectual. Disclaimer #1: There are other closely-related words (such as clever or knowledgeable), but for simplicity’s sake, this entry will focus on the character who is innately intelligent.
Characters in Literature: Hermione Granger, Sherlock Holmes, Ender Wiggin (Ender’s Game)
Common Portrayals: computer hackers, nerds and geeks, scientists, mathematicians, doctors, spies, idiot savants, child prodigies, serial killers
Clichés to Avoid: the socially-awkward genius, the know-it-all school girl always showing off what she knows, eccentric scientists, the loner computer genius who secretly yearns for a connection with others
Twists on the Traditional Intelligent Character:
▪ Your nerd doesn’t have to be greasy-haired and bespectacled. For a twist, give her an attractive physical attribute–hair, eyes, legs, dimples.
▪ Intelligent characters always seem to be surrounded by those less intelligent. How about pairing up your highly-intelligent character with people who are smarter than her? Talk about your tortured heroes…
▪ Instead of making your genius socially backward, make her deficient in another area where those of even low intelligence excel: driving a car, baking, sticking to a budget, reading
Build a worthy protagonist with a mix of unique strengths that will help him overcome obstacles and achieve meaningful goals.
This sample, along with the rest of the character trait entries, has been expanded into book form. Together, the bestselling NEGATIVE TRAIT THESAURUS: A WRITER’S GUIDE TO CHARACTER FLAWS and POSITIVE TRAIT THESAURUS: A WRITER’S GUIDE TO CHARACTER ATTRIBUTES contain over 200 traits for you to choose from when creating memorable, compelling characters. Each entry contains possible causes for the trait, as well as positive and negative aspects, traits in supporting characters that may cause conflict, and associated behaviors, attitudes, thoughts, and emotions. For more information on this bestselling book and where it can be found, please visit our bookstore.
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