Who will win out: the scientists who have studied all their lives to solve this world-destroying threat OR this random character with no knowledge of anything who just happens to have a bit of common sense on their side? You guessed it! It’s totally the random character with no background in science.
This drives me nuts! It’s really insulting to all the science-loving characters in a story–and honestly just downright unbelievable anyhow. It’s also a really common trope in many books these days. Along comes the protagonist who just happens to have all the answers without really stopping to think or study the problem at hand. Years of studying has nothing on this character.
It ties in with the whole “chosen one” trope, where the MC is better than experts at basically everything and learns all they need to know almost instantly (or in the heat of battle). It doesn’t quite work that way in real life. If you throw me into an operating room and expect me to adapt and save the life of a dying person who is bleeding out on a table… I’m going to faint instead. And probably take a doctor or a tray of instruments down with me. So, maybe your character isn’t so iffy around blood, but they certainly wouldn’t be able to perform an operation without medical knowledge. I don’t care what you say to justify it otherwise.
When I begin a new story, I stop and think for a moment. Can my character do this? What does my character have to go through to accomplish such a task? In Sky Knight, my protagonist trained for years at an academy before taking to the skies to track down criminals. If she hadn’t trained for so long, the story would have been quite different. It’s good to think about where the character is going and what is needed to make it to the end of the story.
While you might have a good plot line going for you, if your character comes off as all-knowing, it really damages the story. Try to find balance. Have a good build-up, where your character can learn all they need to learn in order to overcome the conflict in the story, and don’t surprise the readers with additional problems halfway through the plot that the character can sudden master because of past studying we were never informed about.
I like to balance this all-knowing problem with having other characters around who all have skills helpful to the plot line. If you have several important characters, give them something to do other than slapping on titles like “the love interest” or “the sidekick” or “the comic relief”. While it’s cool to have a protagonist who can do anything and everything (looking at you, Smallville), it’s more entertaining and believable to have balance amongst your characters.
(NOTE: I actually LOVE Smallville. My issue rests solely with Superman.)