When it comes to creating characters, it can be tempting to make them larger than life, with exceptional abilities and intelligence.

However, when you make your character too exceptional, you’re risking creating a magical genius, which can lead to a lack of relatability and depth in your writing.

The reason why creating a magical genius is problematic is that despite the character being portrayed as highly intelligent, they only know what the writer needs them to know to move the plot along.

This approach may seem easy since the writer doesn’t have to put in the work of showing the character’s thought process.

However, it doesn’t work well because the thing that makes a smart character admirable is their ability to figure things out.

If the reader can’t follow along, the character becomes disconnected from the reader.

The reader needs to see the character’s deduction process to appreciate their cleverness and skill.

When a character seems to magically know things, without any explanation, it feels unfair to the reader, and they become aware of the author’s hand (meaning they drop out of their suspension of disbelief).

Just like a well-written detective often has a partner who needs explanations to keep the reader engaged, you want to make sure you make your character’s thought process visible.

To avoid ending up with a magical genius, create characters with depth and flaws.

Show your character’s intelligence through their problem-solving skills and the challenges they face.

The reader needs to understand how the character arrives at their conclusions to fully appreciate their brilliance.

By creating relatable characters that the reader can connect with, you can keep your reader invested in your story.

  1. Give your characters flaws. No one is perfect, and your characters shouldn’t be either. Flaws and weaknesses make characters more relatable and interesting. Think about what flaws would make sense for your character given their backstory, goals, and personality. Maybe they struggle with insecurity or have a short temper. These imperfections will humanize your character and make them more relatable.
  2. Show their development. Characters who are already geniuses and have all the answers can quickly become boring. It’s important to show the growth and development of your characters over time. Have them face challenges and obstacles that force them to learn and adapt. This will make your character more dynamic.
  3. Don’t rely solely on their intelligence. While it may be tempting to make your character a genius who can solve any problem, relying solely on their intelligence can make them one-dimensional. Give your character a range of skills and abilities that make them well-rounded. Maybe they have exceptional physical abilities or are great at socializing. This will make them more interesting.
  4. Avoid making them too special. It’s easy to fall into the trap of making your character too special or unique. This can lead to a lack of relatability and make your character feel like a Mary Sue (a character archetype in fiction, usually a young woman, who is often portrayed as inexplicably competent across all domains, gifted with unique talents or powers, liked or respected by everyone). Instead, focus on creating a character who feels like a real person with real struggles and problems. Make sure their abilities and intelligence make sense within the context of the story and their background.
  5. Show their vulnerabilities. Just like flaws, vulnerabilities make characters more relatable and interesting. Maybe your character struggles with anxiety or has a fear of failure. These vulnerabilities can make your character more human and give readers a reason to root for them.

Creating a magical genius may seem like an easy way to make your story interesting, but it can quickly turn the reader against your characters.

By giving your characters flaws, showing their development, avoiding reliance solely on their intelligence, avoiding making them too special, and showing their vulnerabilities, you can create well-rounded characters that readers will love.

Remember, characters are what drive your story, so take the time to make them as interesting and relatable as possible.

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