A magical technique to make characters smarter than your readers
As the creator of your world you are endowed with some amazing powers. You can make things fly, people laugh at jokes that weren’t funny and men be overwhelmingly attracted to a character that is remarkably similar to you. But how can you make a character into a genius? Someone that is not just smarter than your readers but even smarter than you. Surely, that’s not possible?
It is possible by the technique of creating backwards instead of forwards.
Let’s say we have a dead man in a room. He’s been stabbed. The only other thing in the room we need concern ourselves with is that there is a glass of water spilled on the floor by the victim. Can you work out what the murder weapon was?
Our detective can because he’s smarter than both you and me and because we created him with the power of working backwards.
The victim was killed with a shard of ice. That was my starting premise. Of course this would leave a wet patch on the floor for the detective to notice. Our readers are unlikely to guess the murder weapon from his observation of the water alone. However that’s a little simplistic. If the detective had worked out the murder weapon from that alone people may have thought that he was to smart to be plausible. So we have the murderer leave an intact glass at the murder scene to account for the spilled water. You can then concoct clues as to why the glass was suspicious. Such as:
The victim was left handed and the glass was on their right side
Victim didn’t drink water / that type of drink.
The victim had just drunk some water before entering the room.
The victim secretly had Parkinsons disease which made it difficult for him to hold a glass.
The glass would have smashed if the victim had dropped it from that height but it is intact.
“That glass doesn’t make sense there. The murderer must have placed it there. So why would a murderer leave a glass at the scene? Maybe it’s because he was covering up for using ice as a weapon.”
All this happens in the detective’s head in the blink of an eye. The policeman carries on briefing him saying “We still haven’t found the murder weapon.”
“You won’t find a murder weapon.” The detective snaps back. Your audience are amazed as to how the detective could have known that just from looking at the dead body and the glass. They won’t find out until you deem to tell them though.
This technique can be applied to many, many parts of your plot. You can gift your characters with any piece of knowlege that you have. All you have to do is give a few hints to the readers before hand to conceivably let them have the same realisation as well.
This is how you make a character smarter than you. By working backwards through your construction of the plot. When you work like this it can seem very odd. You’ll actually feel as if you’re creating something very pedestrian and obvious. But to a reader it will be amazing and entertaining. If you don’t believe me I suggest you actually watch some videos on how magicians do their tricks. Hearing the solutions is rarely captivating. It’s usually an anti climax like seeing a woman remove her make up. It’s not disappointing exactly and you feel like you should have expected what is there but it’s not better than the magic.