Manipulative characters play a good person with you very well. In contrast, it is all a charade. They only do things that will favor them. So, they play the victim. It is one of the most prevalent cases with them. They always carry out evil plans, pushing the blame onto others whenever it goes sour. Moreover, they never take responsibility for their actions.
If you try to confront them for wrongdoings, they act like the victim and give so many reasons to support the reason for their attitude. Manipulators are masters at this game, so it is difficult to catch them. So, a manipulative character usually makes the story twist and turn. Readers get surprize by a sudden change or action. If you want to make your story remarkable and write a manipulative character, stay with me and follow my tips.
How to write a manipulative character?
When creating a manipulative character, your audience must care about that character. Sympathy and empathy are all staples to accomplishing this connection. However, a more primal way of creating a manipulative character is rooted in hopes and fears. Three major keys to accomplishing this are creating weakness, character flaws, and character bias.
If you establish early on that, your character has flaws both inside and out, they may be oblivious, in denial, or trying to hide these weaknesses. Your audience is set to fear that your character will fall victim to themselves. When the audience likes a character too much, it’s hard to look at that character’s actions without bias. But the character immediately becomes more human and believable when you erase that positive bias. No person is 100% good, and your manipulative character should be no different.
The basis of creating a manipulative character lies in the principle that they are so intelligent that we struggle to understand them. A manipulative character has four key traits: Impossible knowledge, frustration, deduction, and authority. Each point has a specific purpose in your story for your character. I will discuss the top 5 tips to write a manipulative character successfully. Let’s write!
1. Show your character’s intelligence
The first trait of a manipulative character is impossible knowledge. They’re going to know things that no one else knows. First, we must set up a manipulative character. It’s character-building. We want to build a believable character whose intelligence is credible.
- When it comes to dealing with a problem, they will know more than what others know.
They will respond to those problems in a way we might not understand. Also, they will have impossible knowledge, like how do they know that? How is that possible to know that? But they know. When they ask for other people’s help, they will ask for more than what others understand.
It’s easier to write a manipulative character in a sci-fi where what they explain isn’t real because you make things up. If they are intelligent about real things, you can have to explain things that you will need a major in to study. You can’t make it up because it’s based on real-life science. You don’t have to go and research facts. So here’s where it gets juicy.
2. Make interaction
Every character needs to interact with others in your story. Different types of characters will interact with others in different ways. You need to remember this next bit, whenever your character is dealing with a problem and someone else’s there. It is how they deal with others when they are dealing with problems and someone else is either trying to help them or get in the way. Also, it’s how they respond that is going to make them appear very intelligent.
The very frustrating person doesn’t understand a thing. For a manipulative person, that’s pretty much everyone. It’s very much a personality trait of a manipulative character. It causes them incredible impatience when people keep getting in the way. Remember this when writing interactions between a manipulative character and others.
Stupid people get in the way while trying to do things, making them impatient. Eventually, it makes them very angry and ultimately very hostile. It’s widespread for manipulative characters to want to speed things up during interactions. They have little patience with others, making them angry and dismissive. Also, it ruins their friendships and makes them enemies of others.
- So, when your manipulative character starts an interaction with someone, they make interactions quick and end the conversation abruptly.
Manipulative characters decline help from people because they get in the way and avoid small conversation. It’s because they can’t tolerate the never-ending frustration of being surrounded by third-grade idiots who get in the way and slow things down.
3. Have observation
A manipulative person’s ability to figure things out by being able to pick up on the smallest details that no one else will notice. They can draw very accurate conclusions from that. You can either go superhuman, like Mr. Sherlock there. But it doesn’t have to be superhuman observation and deduction.
They wouldn’t notice simply picking up on something that others are unaware of, and they wouldn’t notice. It is great for writing mystery stories, whatever type of mystery you’re writing. So do something different. Think of a time in your story when your manipulative character is challenged. They will look very carefully to figure out what they can do.
When challenged or dealing with a problem, using observation and deduction skills, they can spot little possibilities of what they can do to gain an advantage. They’ll form a plan around it, around what they see. Also, they will spot a weakness or a mistake in an enemy and predict what that person will probably do.
- Most importantly, manipulative characters can stop the danger, recognize it, and stop it before it happens.
4. Give authority
When your manipulative character shines or takes action, they will do it with authority. The manipulative characters are top, and they know it. With manipulative comes authority. Even if they don’t have a position of authority, others listen to them anyway. So what happens when you put another authority figure in the room with a manipulative person?
- Take an authority figure, and you have the authority figure turn to your manipulative character to help make a decision or to help solve a problem.
That’s because an authority figure turns to someone with less authority for help. After all, they have more intelligence. It shows how manipulative they are. What happens when your manipulative character tries to do something, and that authority figure purposely gets in the way? Your manipulative character will take that authority from them. They have the intelligence to know how to take their power away from them and give it to themselves using their intelligence.
- Make threats, and they back down.
That’s all you need to do because they know they’ll do it. Or, they’ll use their intelligence to take away resources from that authority figure. The authority figure has these resources, lots of people, tools, money, technology, and whatever makes them so powerful. Your manipulative character will take that and remove those resources from your authority figure.
Another way is that your manipulative character can tell the rules the authority figure must abide by. The last way, they will take charge, and they will give the orders. So, the authority figure is helpless to do anything.
5. Build a foundation
The authority figure is opposition, and the foundation of your story greatly determines the type of opposition you create for your manipulative character. The 3 things you need to build a solid foundation:
You need that solid foundation for your story, or your story and characters will fall apart.
Build the character: who are they, and what they like. You don’t create immense backstories and all that stuff that comes later. Then you do the environment. What are they?
Try and make it as unique as you can. I try and make it as unique as I can. Whatever the environment is, it’s going to determine what the story is. Also, you need the opposition. Remember, the more unique an environment is, the more unique the rest of the stories.
Most manipulators are great gossip. They always bring the stories of their people to you. In the same vein, they take your accounts to other people. They do not mind sharing their secrets with people. While doing this, they also tell you what others are saying behind your back, thus making themselves look like saints before you.
So what’s your opinion about this? I hope you enjoyed reading this article. If you have something on your mind, don’t hesitate to share your thoughts and experience in the comments below.
Read books to learn more:
Learn more writing tips:
Table of Contents