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Free Character Writing Prompts #73: Intellectuals



These character writing prompts are known for their knowledge, but just because they're intellectuals does not mean they're in any way street smart. No matter what you're read, watched or experienced, the intellectuals of the world always seem to know more than you. Intellectuals usually have strong opinions on the big issues and the ones that are more inconsequential, but they typically have the knowhow to backup their beliefs. Intellectuals are sometimes portrayed as having much in the way of book smarts but little when it comes to common sense. In the movie, Midnight in Paris, the protagonist's rival, Paul is an intellectual who at one point even takes over a tour from a tour guide, showing that character as both an intellectual and a jerk.



Free Character Writing Prompts #73: Intellectuals

1. He was able to boast several masters degrees and PhDs in subjects ranging from art history to ancient languages. While he was perfect capable of discussing pop culture and things that normal people would understand, he took a certain pleasure from talking about subjects that were in his immediate wheelhouse. He'd talk about where words came from or how certain styles of furniture and art were designed. At first, new people meeting him thought his vast knowledge was cool, but it definitely got old quick. Why does he spend so much of his time talking about his book knowledge as opposed to connecting with people?

2. As a sportscaster, he was required to know much more about sports then the average guy. When he hung out with his non-sportscaster buddies, however, he just wanted to be one of the dudes. This became impossible when they asked him questions about a game they were watching, because his vast knowledge of the game would take over and he'd kill speculation with his total accuracy. When his friends would ask what play he thought a team would run next, he was almost always correct. When a game was coming down to the wire, he would frequently be able to tell how the final few minutes would play out, taking all the fun out of it. One of his biggest worries had come true, he'd become too smart at sports. What will he do to remedy his over intellectualization to enjoy the games again with his pals?

3. You had been one of her classmates in high school in the most advanced math classes. While you didn't continue the way of the integral and the derivative, she continued all the way up through a PhD in applied mathematics. She was still a good friend of yours and you loved introducing her to your new buddies when she would come to visit. The only problem was, she tried way too hard to explain the things she now did on a day-to-day basis. You had a vague understanding of what she was getting at, but most of your friends seemed to think she was the nerdiest girl they'd ever met. You tried to show them the girl underneath the math, who was definitely cool, but all they could see was the PhD. Will this math genius ever be able to prove she can push past her formulaic conversation?

4. Her friends tried to remind her that just because she was a birthing nurse and a Lamaze instructor did not mean that they wanted her pregnancy advise 24/7. After having a child early in life, she became extremely interested in pregnancy and made it the main focus of her life. When her friends began getting pregnant, she was so excited to be able to tell them every detail and the things that they should be doing every day to ensure a healthy pregnancy. The problem is, that is all she would talk about and she had ceased to be their friend, in lieu of becoming their coach. She knew she was being annoying but there was nothing more she wanted than for their babies to be super healthy. How will she remedy her desire to over-share her pregnancy knowledge?

5. You were so proud of your friend, a former Navy tough guy, had gone back to school and was now fighting his way toward a masters degree. You used to talk primarily about sports and guy stuff, but now his focus was on the things he was learning about in grad school. You loved talking about American colonialism and 18th century art history as much as the next guy, you just didn't have a lot to add on the subject. It was so funny to you that a guy who used to talk about burps and farts was now telling you in depth about various historical movements. You wondered if this was a temporary change reflected in how much he was reading these days, or if the days of chatting balls and strikes was over. How did this friend of yours make the transition from muscle head to bookworm?

6. His whole life people were telling him that he knew so much about random facts and figures that he should go on Jeopardy. So he did. And he won over $100,000 over the course of a week's worth of wins. Before he had been on the game, people he hung around with seemed to be annoyed at his rambling off of seemingly innocuous trivia. After his major victory, however, he was almost defined by said trivia. They would look up new and unusual questions to ask him, and more often than not, he was able to answer them correctly. He was happy that his friends now appreciated his talent for memorization, but he also didn't want to solely be defined by his knowledge as well. What will this Jeopardy champion do to prove he is more than a computer of information?

7. She didn't love going to the movies for the reasons other people loved going to the movies. She was there almost solely to continue to fill her database of directors, actors and specific shots that she would use to prove her superior knowledge of movies over her fellow buffs. She could easily tell you almost every movie that a particular actor had been in, going back to childhood roles and one-off television appearances. She would readily tell you what influences a movie had by comparing shots from a certain scene to one from a movie produced decades earlier. All she did was watch movies, write about movies on her blog and talk about movies with her likewise cinema-obsessed friends. What are some of her favorite movies to watch and why?

8. Her friends felt like they always had to point out that she wasn't actually a priest or a rabbi. She just happened to only talk about religion and absolutely nothing else because she was a professor on the subject. As a young girl, she had been fascinated by the various faiths of the world and knew that she wanted to be involved somehow. The only issue was, that she didn't believe in God, so she had no inclination to working for a particular religion. Educating others on the matter, however, now that was a worthy task that she loved fulfilling as she entered her second decade of instruction. Religion was a touchy subject though, and her friend occasionally omitted her from certain events so that she would piss people off. What are some of the things about religion that interest her so much?

9. He was an expert when it came to love, at least as far as expressing it was concerned. He had memorized hundreds of love poems, such as odes and sonnets, when he was studying for a masters degree in English. He'd even written several published works on love during different literary time periods. You'd think that this knowledge would give him a leg up on the dating competition, but he had a tough time making the transition from intellectual to actual affection. He made amazing, beautiful gestures to the women he loved but he would then deconstruct their actions together and talk about them as if he was a third party, studying them hundreds of years later. Needless to say, the girls he dated thought that was weird. Will he ever learn to love someone in the moment?

10. But how could you be intellectual about a car, you might ask. Through her years of laboring on vehicles in her father's garage, reading automotive magazines and even taking a tour to visit automotive factories worldwide, she could tell you anything you ever wanted to know about the automobile. She knew the parts that made up the very first Henry Ford creation all the way down to the features of the modern electric contraptions. She loved her ability to make car-loving dudes feel stupid by imposing her vast knowledge upon them. The only thing she loved more than taking cars apart and putting them back together was showing just how much she knew on the subject to anyone willing to listen. What was it she enjoyed so much about talking shop with others? 

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Done with Character Writing Prompts about Intellectuals? Go back to Creative Writing Prompts. 



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Written by Bryan Cohen

Bryan Cohen is the author of more than 30 books, many of which focus on creative writing and blasting through that pesky writer's block. His books have sold more than 20,000 copies. You can find him on and Facebook.

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