Definition: characterized by wisdom; marked by keen understanding and discernment
Causes: intense study, a thirst for knowledge and learning, many and varied life experiences, being raised in a culture that values knowledge, having not only studied others but applied their lessons to one's own life
Characters in Literature and popular culture: Yoda, Gandalf, Charlotte (Charlotte's Web)
Positives: The wise character is one who sees more than most people see. He looks farther ahead and identifies more possibilities. Wise characters are helpful to have around because of the knowledge and guidance they impart to the hero. As such, they're often cast as mentors.
Negatives: Wise characters are usually right, which makes them predictable and potentially boring. Because of their lofty and superior ways, it's easy for the wise person to look down on those around him, to have no patience for others' lack of wisdom. They can be insufferable, impatient, and self-righteous. Because of their removed status, their social skills may be somewhat lacking. They may also consider themselves to be outside the law.
Common Portrayals: wizards, mentors, teachers, coaches, judges, therapists, the elderly
Cliches to Avoid: the wise hermit living on the outskirts of society because he can no longer stand to live among humans; the kindly grandfather or grandmother; the crackpot wise person
Twists on the Traditional Wise Character:
- Because these characters are so often right, they're sometimes cast as being perfect and never making mistakes. Make sure your wise person has some flaws.
- There's nothing more boring than a character who always makes the right decisions. To make him more likable, give your character some quirks or goofy habits. Even better, make him a person who knows the right thing to do but who struggles to do it.
- Wise characters are supposed to have all the answers, but part of wisdom lies i knowing when you're out-matched. Limit your wise character's knowledge. Don't make him or her omniscient.
- Age isn't a requirement for wisdom. To switch things up, choose a child or teen to mentor an older hero in need of guidance.
Conflicting characteristics to make your wise character unique or more interesting: impulsive, lazy, apologetic, reluctant, hyperactive, unreliable, dishonest