In a series I am currently writing, the protagonist grew up in a big detective family, causing her to know a lot about the detective's world.

How can I write her dialogue to show she's a knows it all?

Example - "Loopholes are taught in Lockery class because finding a loophole is figuratively picking a lock. It's in the first chapter of "Lockery for Beginners". Haven't you bothered to read the textbook?"

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    Is there something specific that you feel your example isn't achieving? Jun 3, 2020 at 23:54
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    Ah, okay. I don't think it needs a verb - I get the impression that she's "sort of a know-it-all" from the dialogue :) Jun 4, 2020 at 8:15
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    The sentence itself is confusing to me. Why would a know-it-all indirectly quote two other people in one breath? Know-it-alls are usually more succinct and arrogant, not relying on the words of others so much.
    – RobJarvis
    Jun 5, 2020 at 14:28
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    Building on @RobJarvis's comment, have her say something like..."Shouldn't you already know it ? This is lockpicking 101. what you need to do is"... do not refer to someone else...
    – user96551
    Jun 6, 2020 at 15:28
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    @RobJarvis I would respectfully point you to Hermione Granger. Jun 9, 2020 at 12:44

2 Answers 2


I think you need to understand your character's reasons for being a Know-It-All. It can be out of enthusiasm for a subject or deep need for acknowledgment or a need to show up other people or even an extreme fragility of character. Each of those manifests Know-It-Allism for different reasons.

Enthusiasm -- is a geeky know-it-all. Overshares. Tone can be excited, lots of details and facts and cool contradiction. This is like Hermione Granger from Harry Potter, esp first few books.

Deep need for acknowledgment -- for whatever reason (too many possible to enumerate) individual put great effort into learning a subject but feeling inadequate, constantly seeks positive reinforcement by blurting information, needing people to say 'good job' or trying to recreate a feeling of accomplishment by having others react to their mastery of the subject. The tone is not excited as in Enthusiasm but might be nonchalant and casual or focused. Determined by specific need character is trying to satisfy by being a font of knowledge. This is most any person answer questions on Quora and Stackexchange.

Show-offs and Fragile egos -- both can come across as very smug and pretentious, treating their subject matter with great reverence, no matter how difficult it was to master. The tone is slow and deliberative because it puts them in control of the conversation, draws out everything, overly conscious of giving away to much knowledge. Will share enough to show they know what is what, but a reticent to share what they know for fear of diminishing their own value. They make also be trying to puff themselves up by appearing more authoritative then they really are. Unfortunately, this is most likely me.


You could write arrogance into her dialogue in many different ways.

You can go with what you have in your example, which is basically that she just pours all the information she knows onto the person she is talking with.

You could also make her dismiss all the ideas and suggestions the people she talks with are giving to her because "she knows it all."

There are many ways, but hopefully, you'll find the one that works for you!

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