Susie is a nice, flawed character. She’s far too focused on becoming stronger as a wizard, to the point where she drives away her family and friends. When evil comes, however, she shows that all of her training paid off. She defeats the mad sorcerer, but loses her ability to make connections to people in the process. Retiring to a cave, Susie waits until evil strikes again. The cave serves a second function of secluding her from those that would notice her changes.
Okay, she sounds like a compelling character, but all that can go straight in the toilet if everything she says is right.
If the evil sorcerer comes to scout the area out disguised as a beggar, and Susie immediately suspects him, that’s an example of her being correct when she realistically shouldn’t be. If a page is missing from her book of spells and she guesses what the words are, she shouldn’t get it right.
Having your character be wrong is just as important as giving them flaws. Even the wise old man should be wrong once in a while. Making them right every time is a sneaky way of making a Mary Sue, and a lot of people don’t notice when they’re doing it. It can actually be harder to make a character wrong sometimes than to give them flaws, because we know everything about the world, and it’s hard not to tell that knowledge to the characters.
A good example of a character being wrong would be in the book Truancy Origins by Isamu Fukui. A runaway kid has a pain that he assumes is in his appendix. Later on, when he grasps himself and claims that his appendix hurts, a different character knows that it isn’t his appendix after all. The fact that it isn’t his appendix is a minor part of the story, but it stuck with me because the runaway wasn’t accurate in his guess.
Some characters will be wrong more often than others, but they should all be wrong at least once in your story.
The follower of the day is ever-overthinking.