How to Write About Characters Who Are Smarter Than You

One approach would be to render his dialogue as highly technical jargon. To have him speak in dense and impenetrable algorithms. The problem with this would be that it would end up incomprehensible to the audience.


Doyle’s great discovery is that intelligence is not about the accumulation of data — it’s about deciding what that data means. Holmes has the same tools at his disposal that you do; he almost never possesses information that you don’t. It’s only that he looks at the shared information and sees things that you never could. An analogy might be found in the poker game Texas Hold ’Em, for any reader who plays (I play a lot.) The trick of the game is in some sense that you’re not playing your opponent’s cards — you’re playing the community cards. The real game isn’t in what she knows that you don’t, or what you know that she doesn’t. It’s in what you both know, but you simply deploy to greater affect.