Character Types: The Know it All

Hey SE Readers. Joan with you today. This is the third in a series of posts about character types. The ideas are from my personal observations or public knowledge of well-known people. The other posts are The Attention Seeker and The “I Can Top That” Person.

“Jack of all trades.” You may have heard this phrase as a compliment to someone who is skilled in several things. An everyday handyman fits the bill. He might know a bit about plumbing, how to frame a house, or do minor electrical work.

But consider the full quote. “Jack of all trades, master at none.” That doesn’t sound complimentary, does it?

Today’s post deals with the “know it all.” Consider a person who has spent years in college, jumping from major to major without getting a degree. They may have a lot of knowledge but aren’t masterful at anything.

I once worked with someone who I called a professional student. She was smart, outgoing, and likable, but she couldn’t settle on one college major. At the time I knew her, she already had two bachelor’s degrees and had decided to go to nursing school.

She was an only child, and her parents had the means to support her endeavors. I once told her sooner or later, she needed to decide on something and start to build her career. She knew I spoke the truth.

But opposite of Jane (not her real name) is the true know it all. They have a little bit of knowledge in a particular field and believe that makes them an expert. Usually their “knowledge” isn’t limited to one thing. They may have worked for a stockbroker, so they consider themselves a financial expert. At another point in their life, they dabbled in the paralegal field. Maybe they once worked in a medical office. This person is always the first to offer advice.

Writing this type of character can be fun, especially if you make them a con artist. The 2002 movie Catch Me if You Can is based on the true story of Frank Abagnale. By the time he was nineteen, Abagnale had impersonated a doctor, an airline pilot, and an attorney. After his arrest and subsequent prison time, he worked alongside the FBI and started a financial fraud consultancy company.

When I worked in banking, I heard him speak in person, and believe me, truth is stranger than fiction. Although some of his claims are said to be exaggerated and untrue, writing this type of character has lots of possibilities.

What’s your take on writing a “know it all?” Would you make them a con or do something else with the character?

51 thoughts on “Character Types: The Know it All

  1. Pingback: These Unlucky Stars — Review – Rosi Hollinbeck

  2. The know it all. Brilliant, Joan. I know so many of these. My family is full of them and I drives me nuts especially when it concerns medical issues. My son, Greg, knows everything, but that is a genuine compliment. He really does seem to know everything and is never wrong. I always told my boys that if you are going to take someone on about something, and argue with them, make sure you are right and can back up your claims. They’ve taken this to heart.

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  3. Great post, Joan. I’ve ran into my share:) Yes, they would make a good con artist if you throw in the charm. Claiming to be experts is what they thrive in and could leave one very broke. They are fun characters to work for a con even though with their negative intentions.

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  4. A know-it-all could make a great con. I also think they could be one of those annoying people who comes up against a situation that backfires in their face. Then they realize how little they really know.
    I’ve encountered a few people like this in my life, but have never written one. They’d definitely make a great character type.

    How cool that you got to hear Frank Abagnale speak. I remember the movie.
    Great post, Joan!

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  5. A “know-it-all” character could be a huge thorn in someone’s side (or everyone’s side). It might be fun to write, especially if he/she gets brought down a notch in the story. I haven’t written this type of character, but it could be fun. This is a great series! Thanks for sharing!

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  6. I don’t know that I could write a know it all character because I don’t know it all. 🤣🤣🤣 I could definitely see this type of character as a con artist or an annoying side kick. I’ve known a few people like this, and some of them are arrogant while others don’t even know they are in that category. Lol! Good post, Joan. 😊

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  7. Joan, a fun post. I was imagining a few people I have known over the years and chuckling. One of my relatives is like this – if he has the slightest knowledge of anything, he will consider himself an expert, and tell you so! One of my characters in my latest book had a touch of this trait. Thanks for an interesting post!

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