Thursday, May 10

5 Tips for Writing a Scientific Genius When You Are Not One (by A. M. Morgen)

Hello! Welcome to the blog tour stop for The Inventors at No. 8, a new middle-grade read by A. M. Morgen—who was also nice enough to write an awesome little post for us here! Ms. Morgen has provided a rather unique and very useful how-to about character development. Because, you see, she's got one hefty character starring in her new book: the one and only Ada Lovelace. This book is a STEM-filled adventure that will be sure to win over readers!

About the Book

The Inventors at No. 8
A. M. Morgen

Little Brown Books (May 8, 2018)

Meet George, the third Lord of Devonshire and the unluckiest boy in London. Why is George so unlucky? First, he's an orphan. Second, unless he sells everything, he's about to lose his house. So when his family's last heirloom, a priceless map to the Star of Victory (a unique gem said to bring its owner success in any battle) is stolen by a nefarious group of criminals, George knows that there is no one less luckyor more alonethan he is.

That is until Ada Byron, the future Countess of Lovelace, bursts into his life. She promises to help George recover his family legacy, and is determined to find her own father along the wayall in a flying machine she built herself. Joined by a mischievous orangutan and the long-lost son of an infamous pirate, Ada and George take off on a cross-continent journey through the skies that will change their lives, and perhaps the world, forever.

Five Tips for Writing a Scientific Genius When You Are Not One

By A. M. Morgen

If you watch crime shows on TV, you might expect that geniuses are so common that they work in every police station. However, true geniuses are rare. Scientific geniuses are rarer still. Only .25% of the world’s population is estimated to have a genius-level IQ. But exceptional intellect alone doesn’t make a genius. A genius must also be creative and persistent enough to put their talents into practice.

When I decided to write a book with a scientific genius character based on Ada Lovelace, I worried I wouldn’t be able to write her convincingly. How was I supposed to write a character that was smarter than the reader, smarter than the other characters, and smarter than me? Luckily, Google and Wikipedia came to my rescue, but I discovered a few other strategies along the way. You can read Inventors at No. 8, to judge whether or not I was successful in my goal to write a convincing child genius. In the meantime, here are 5 tips to keep in mind when writing a genius of your own:

1. Don’t make the main character a genius

There’s a good reason why Hermione was not the main character of the Harry Potter series even though she’s the smartest, most capable student at Hogwarts. Genius characters are fun because their thought processes are so different from everyone else’s and they’re always one step ahead. Keep the reader outside of the genius brain and save yourself the trouble of having to explain how they solve every problem step-by-step. (Matilda may be the exception to this rule, but I stand by it.)

2. Base the genius on a real person

Did you know Sir Arthur Conan Doyle modeled Sherlock Holmes on his old boss? Geniuses might be rare, but they’re around. If you’re lucky enough to know one, let them be an inspiration for your writing. Or, pick a historical genius (sorry, Ada Lovelace is taken) and let their real-life quirks and habits inspire you.

3. Use Big Words

I can’t overstate how impressive big words are, especially if they’re scientific. Strategically sprinkle your genius character’s speech with words like “exothermic” or “magnetohydrodynamics” and they’ll instantly sound smart. Just make sure you’re using the terms properly!

4. When in doubt, leave it out

If can’t explain how your genius cured a plague or disarmed a nuclear bomb in five seconds, then … don’t! Let your genius be a genius. They can be vague, get distracted, or refuse to talk about it! As long as the plot makes sense, don’t get twisted up in details a non-genius wouldn’t understand anyway.

5. Make them human

Don’t make your genius into a nerdy or evil stereotype and forget to give them a personality beyond their brains. At the end of the day, very smart people are still people—with wants, needs, dreams, and vulnerabilities.

My last unofficial tip is: Don’t forget to have fun and enjoy learning all sorts of new things as you write your own genius!

A.M. Morgen comes from a long line of engineers and researchers but chose to pursue literature over the laboratory. To her family's surprise, she has managed to make a decent living as an editor with her English degree. In her spare time, A.M. enjoys taking long walks in the forest, trying out new hobbies (then abandoning them), and complaining about her mean cat. Despite what you may think, A.M. is not a morning person. Find her on or follow @ammorgenbooks.

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