Saturday, March 10, 2012

You Have To Be Smarter Than Your Genius

I love smart characters. One of my most favorite stories are those of masterminds who create intricate and elaborate plans to accomplish a seemingly-impossible goal. I'm fairly certain that any character ever played by Anthony Hopkins qualifies as such.

What I hate is stupid stories written about smart characters. They invariably require one person to hold the idiot ball and make some mistake that is painfully obvious to anybody who enjoys this kind of story. When the genius is "the bad guy" and he is going to get foiled, there always seems to be some near-miracle that allows "the good guys" to solve the puzzle. I say "near-miracle" because some deus ex machina either places the missing link right in front of somebody's nose, or gives the problem-solver the ability to guess the most unlikely thing possible and follow that random hunch thoroughly enough to realize it was right.

I do not write stories like these for one main reason: I'm not that smart. I cannot come up with genius master plans. Every time I do, I realize that the situation could be solved through much simpler means and anybody smart enough to come up with the complex plan would realize that they didn't need a plan that complex.

If you really do want to write a story about a genius, you have to be smarter than your genius.

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