Writing Forums

Writing Forums is a privately-owned, community managed writing environment. We provide an unlimited opportunity for writers and poets of all abilities, to share their work and communicate with other writers and creative artists. We offer an experience that is safe, welcoming and friendly, regardless of your level of participation, knowledge or skill. There are several opportunities for writers to exchange tips, engage in discussions about techniques, and grow in your craft. You can also participate in forum competitions that are exciting and helpful in building your skill level. There's so much more for you to explore!

Is my main character too smart? (1 Viewer)

Status
Not open for further replies.

ironpony

Senior Member
For my story, I wondering if it's possible for the main character to be smart enough to figure all this out.

He is a cop in modern times, and while on patrol he spots a man running from a building, and a group of other men in masks and gloves chase after him. The cop manages to detain one of the masked men, but the others get away. He also notices that one of the masked men who got away was carrying a video camera. The man he detains remains silent.


The cop then calls for back up and investigates the building they ran from and left the doors open to. A kidnapped woman is tied up inside.

The cop has a theory that it was the guy that they gang was chasing was a new recruit to get and that the hostage was an initiation test for the new recruit to get in. The new recruit failed the initiation test, and became afraid of the gang now having failed the test, and ran away, so they chase after him.

He also figures that the gang video-recorded him attempting to do the initiation so they can have leverage on him just in case.
Is the cop too smart for figuring all this out, and that he would be correct on this? Or is it plausible that he could figure it out?
 

EternalGreen

Senior Member
You said he's a cop, right? I think the question answers itself.

But I suppose a book doesn't need to be realistic. A "realistic" police thriller would involve the main cast driving around ticketing people for revenue generation.

I don't think anyone will care how smart he is.
 

ironpony

Senior Member
Oh okay. It's just that a character with detectives skills can only be so smart, and I am worried that he is too smart to the point of psychic, because what are the odds that his theory would be the correct one, which it is? Plus the reader would probably not be able to figure it out, so if the reader cannot, would they believe a cop will be able to?
 

ironpony

Senior Member
The victim is not talking though. She has her own hidden motives and does not want to talk about anything, so she remains silent as well. All he has to go on is what he saw, but no one is talking. I guess one example is Sherlock Holmes as he can figure out things, the reader cannot usually, so maybe it's okay then for a protagonist to do that if they are a police detective?
 
Last edited:

MistWolf

Senior Member
The victim may not be talking, but your hero can tell much by the way the victim responds to questioning.

If you need your hero to figure this out at this stage, let your writing support that. Familiarity with the gang's MO lets him figure out what happened, for example.

It's ok for your hero to have a mind good at drawing accurate conclusions from fragments. I like characters that can do that. Just don't have your character suddenly lose that ability to send him after a red herring or keep him from catching the badguy too early in the story.

This is the long way around the barn to say- I think you're on the right track.
 

ironpony

Senior Member
Oh okay. Well the main character figures out that the victim, is actually in collusion with them and she was just posing as a hostage, for the test, and it was a fake test. He theorizes that the reason why the gang used a fake hostage was because in case the new recruit turned out to be an undercover cop, and that undercover cop were to make a bust, then there would be no fake hostage to cooberate any kidnapping happening. But can the main character be smart enough to theorize that?
 

Llyralen

Senior Member
What did the initiate do that failed?
I think that people are smart for a reason... basically that their training and experience has prepared them to be able to put two and two together. I don't believe in the idea of a "set" IQ. I believe in growth mind-set. So if this cop has had experience with the gangs in his town then he could figure your story up to the point of what you have told us is a possibility. Maybe if you'd like to you could put a clue in about which particular gang this is or maybe he even recognized one of the gang kids? But there must be more... right? There's got to be things that he doesn't yet get and needs to investigate . Your story has left me with more questions than answers which is what you want for the start of a story. Why isn't the victim talking? What did the initiate do that failed? What will they do to the initiate? What about the kid that you caught? Now what? What's going on in this town? How big is the town? Does he take the gang kid to his parents? What's up with the kid's life? Anyway... I actually really want to know what happens next.

There was this horrible initiation rite that I heard of a while back (this was probably when the drugs for AIDS wasn't as helpful as it is now and when we were all afraid of it... I think like 9 years ago?) about making initiates sleep with a whore who had AIDS. She was paid. She was in on it. I remember being like "What?" and the person who I was discussing it with said "Because gang members are expected to die for their gang anyway or be able to do anything include die for the gang so I guess they expect to have a short life. I wouldn't do it." Anyway, gangs are very interesting, aren't they? I hope nobody is doing that kind of stuff right now. I hope nobody is doing any of it. Go play a video game.

Anyway.... you should keep writing this one, imo. But I would say what you've got is the beginning of your story. First chapter and then there has got to be more.
 

ironpony

Senior Member
Oh okay, thanks. That's very interesting. Well the initation test was that the new recruit has to commit a fake rape, thinking that it's real. The hostage is actually one of them and is on it, only pretending she is going to be raped, acting it out, but is in on it. The new recruit cannot go through with it, so he gets scared they will harm him then and runs off. They chase after him and then cop on patrol intervenes then. I don't want the one he arrested, or the false victim to talk at all. Otherwise they will give away too much, too fast in the plot.

The cop also does not have any prior run ins with this gang or knows who they are. This would also have him know too much, too fast, if he does. All the cop knows is some guy was being chased, he managed to arrest one of them, found what looks like to be a tied up hostage, and he doesn't know of hasn't heard of any of them, and no one is talking. But I want him to be able to figure out it was an initiation test still that went bad. Is that still possible for him to figure out, without him needing to know too much, too fast?
 

Llyralen

Senior Member
Oh okay, thanks. That's very interesting. Well the initation test was that the new recruit has to commit a fake rape, thinking that it's real. The hostage is actually one of them and is on it, only pretending she is going to be raped, acting it out, but is in on it. The new recruit cannot go through with it, so he gets scared they will harm him then and runs off. They chase after him and then cop on patrol intervenes then. I don't want the one he arrested, or the false victim to talk at all. Otherwise they will give away too much, too fast in the plot.

The cop also does not have any prior run ins with this gang or knows who they are. This would also have him know too much, too fast, if he does. All the cop knows is some guy was being chased, he managed to arrest one of them, found what looks like to be a tied up hostage, and he doesn't know of hasn't heard of any of them, and no one is talking. But I want him to be able to figure out it was an initiation test still that went bad. Is that still possible for him to figure out, without him needing to know too much, too fast?

How smart the cop is is actually not the interesting part of your story. I don’t think any of us read stories just to be impressed. Just like you wouldn’t go to a doctor just to feel impressed. We want to understand the outcome. We want to make sure all of our questions are being answered. The situation itself and the struggles of the characters is what is interesting. I really do think this would just be the opening pages to a book that takes care of all of our questions and actually addresses what is going on. We are interested to hear about the gang member and what he does with him. We are interested to hear what is going on with the rape girl. I would be interested to hear how gang violence is going on this town. I am interested to hear if your cop is a interesting mix of a guy. Is he smart about people but is out of shape? Is he cocky and full of himself and has a terrible marriage? Like I said... I don’t think people are just “smart” I think they are also educated. Just like a genius 5 year old would not be able to know anything about gangs and so likely would not figure this one out. Who cares about smart on its own without background and experience? Not me. Not anyone, I’d say. You’ve got an interesting story but the point about him being smart is about as important as you proving his hair color is brown or something. “Wow! He really does have brown hair”. Is about as good as “Wow! He really is a smart guy!” Tell me why I should care if he has brown hair. Is it a problem for his wife? Does he refuse to change it when he goes undercover. Anyway.... again. You’re sitting on a good story but the thing that you’re interested in is not what your readers are interested in. Think it over a bit.
Personally I watch the Sherlock series to see how he interacts with Watson.
 

ironpony

Senior Member
Oh okay thanks. Yes for sure, how smart the cop is, is not the interesting part. It's just him figuring out what happened is a stepping stone to get to the good things in the story. I was just wondering if the stepping stone of him being able to figure such a thing is even plausible, before getting to the good things.
 

Sir-KP

Senior Member
If he is able to find out based on a reasoning, which reasoning skill is based on his career experience, then he deserve to be smart.

Yet if every step he does is straight up accurate, as if he could sniff, look through walls, and know the perps' exact spots as pinpointed by the God, then yes, he is 'too smart'.
 

ironpony

Senior Member
Oh okay. It's just that his theory as to what happened would be just a theory, so I wonder, what are the odds of that theory turning out to be correct, when there could be 10 different theories you could apply to the same crime.
 

PiP

Staff member
Co-Owner
Oh okay. It's just that his theory as to what happened would be just a theory, so I wonder, what are the odds of that theory turning out to be correct, when there could be 10 different theories you could apply to the same crime.

You are overthinking this. I think you are tying yourself up in knots, IP. Odds: 10 to 1 Just go with it.
 

Llyralen

Senior Member
Oh okay thanks. Yes for sure, how smart the cop is, is not the interesting part. It's just him figuring out what happened is a stepping stone to get to the good things in the story. I was just wondering if the stepping stone of him being able to figure such a thing is even plausible, before getting to the good things.

It's like I said... "smart" is a trained thing always. There are reasons why someone could connect the dots. Otherwise there are other theories that could work and you always want to double-check to see if your theory has evidence. Otherwise other things could be happening and he would be missing the reality of the situation. Why wouldn't he have experience with gangs or with this particular group? He might even know this girl that is tied up--- which is MORE interesting, imo.. It's MORE interesting to have a cop really understand his area, imo. Is there a reason he doesn't have experience? Is he new to the area? Has he never worked with gangs? Is he fresh out of school? I hope you're able to take a step back and see that you are siting on a good story, but that the reality is that people aren't just "smart", people are educated and if they have hunches then it is only stupid people who don't check for evidence for their hunches. At any rate... the education, the experience, the know-how is all cool and interesting.

Or if this guy having hunches IS the interesting part of him to you, then would your story be about him getting too cocky and not checking for evidence? Hmmm I think there is a Swedish crime/investigator show out right now about a cop that almost gets like psychic hunches... by looking at really odd evidence like children's pictures and things like that and it effects him too much. He can't take it and goes to a small town to get away from brutal crimes, but then... there are brutal crimes there immediately too, you know? Anyway, some people need evidence and THEN connect the dots after getting in a LOT of evidence. Some people can see possibilities easily and in their minds things get connected but then they HAVE to look for evidence because otherwise it is like you said, there could be 10 different things that it could be. So someone who is vetted in the biz is going to know his style and he is going to know he will need to double-check or else it's not being smart at all.... Anyway, take a step back. See what you think.
 

ironpony

Senior Member
Oh okay thanks. Well I wanted to write it so that the villains are uknown to the police in order to give the police more mystery to figure out. So the main character would not know them then.
 

Twisted Head

Senior Member
Is it really necessary for the cop to have things figured out at this point? Even if he/she is smart, it doesn't mean all the answers are handed to him/her. What about making the cop think he knows the answer, but then he's wrong. Even the smartest people in the world are wrong, sometimes more than they are right. They figure things out by continuing to pursue the answer even though they keep getting hit with different rabbit holes to swallow them up.
 

ironpony

Senior Member
Oh okay. It's just that the reader has to figure out what is going on by this point, because I feel that if the reader does not know what happened at this point that they will become frustrated and may give up on the story, if they do not have more information. So I thought the reader could figure it out if the main character does, but if the main character doesn't figure it out yet, should I supply the information to the reader in another way then?
 
Last edited:

MistWolf

Senior Member
Oh okay. It's just that the reader has to figure out what is going on by this point, because I feel that if the reader does not know what happened at this point that they will become frustrated and may give up on the story, if they do not have more information. So I thought the reader could figure it out if the main character does, but if the main character doesn't figure it out yet, should I supply the information to the reader in another way then?
Go with your gut.

The main character will need enough insight to keep the story (and their investigation) moving forward. The insight may only be only partially correct or not complete, but enough to keep the momentum going
 

ironpony

Senior Member
Oh okay thanks. But is it possible for the main character to figure out why they used a fake victim though? Or is the 'why' too much of a reach to figure out?
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top