How to Write a Manipulative Character in 5 Steps (Detailed Guide)

Last Updated on January 15, 2023 by Dr Sharon Baisil MD

If you’re looking to write a character who is manipulative and calculated, you need to learn how to write a manipulative character. This guide will teach you the basics of writing a manipulative character, from the motivations behind their actions to the way they communicate. By following these steps, you’ll be able to create a compelling and unforgettable character who will surely surprise and captivate your readers.

What are the common signs of a manipulative character?

It’s a good idea to understand the symptoms of being influenced before you sit down to create a manipulating character, as there are many prevalent symptoms.

Drawing a clear line between psychological and emotional manipulation is tricky. We haven’t separated them because a good manipulator will utilize both.

Some common signs of manipulation include:

#1 They isolate

Victims seeking outside counsel or receiving comfort from others are anathema to a manipulative person. Cults, in particular, provide a stark illustration since cult members are entirely cut off from the outside world. Physical and emotional isolation, like Rapunzel’s tower in Tangled, could be the same thing. In any case, the goal is to isolate the victim.

#2 They let their victim go away from familiar territory

This might range from suggesting they meet at your home to flying them to another nation. The victim is made to feel uncomfortable in any way.

#3 They make fun of the insecurities

People will claim it’s simply a joke or a viewpoint. It appears to be a joke on the surface, but it is designed to make the victim believe, “I’m not worth anything.” I’m dumb. I’m incompetent. I shouldn’t trust myself.” Make sure this matches your character’s personality as you develop them. Some individuals may interpret this as flirting, while others may see it as considerably less complex.

#4 They can quickly become super close

Manipulative individuals have one goal: to obtain what they desire. They’ll recognize how powerful friendship might be if they’ve had experience with manipulating others. The victim’s sole friend is the manipulator’s objective. This is simple and may harm the individual’s other connections and relationships just to be “the only one.”

#5 They guilt trip!

Every manipulator does this. They do everything they can to make their victim feel guilty whenever something goes wrong. They also shift the fault to someone else if they are caught. If someone propels them into a corner and they have to preserve their skin, remember that they may not realize what is happening.

Bonus Tip: Write an engaging character description super quickly!

Let’s assume your character has a blurb that dives into everything you need to know about them. With a few key elements in mind, you’ll be well at writing a solid character description. And we know that you’re great at writing character descriptions, but you may not be super quick and creative just like this AI-writing assistant. It’s not just detailing but can also give you ideas for what aspects of your character to deal with. So, let’s begin playing with the ready-made templates to make a massive difference in your fiction writing now!

What are the types of manipulators?

According to Sharie Stines in an article for TIME magazine, Manipulators are either the victim or the bully.

  • When the manipulator acts as the victim, he endeavors to elicit compassion from you so that you’ll comply with his demands.
  • If the manipulator is the tyrant, she’ll yell, kick, and scream until you submit and allow her to have what she wants (which we refer to as tantrums).

Five valuable tips on how to write manipulative characters

We’ll describe some of our helpful tips for writing villain-like manipulative characters in fiction as follows:

#1 Make them jealous!

It’s possible for unrestrained jealousy to turn into some nasty ideas and actions. A jealous individual may experience a variety of consequences, remarkably unchecked jealousy. A covetous villain may devise a plan to STEAL the item they covet and then inflict tremendous agony on their victim while they are stealing it.

#2 They’re full of hate!

That person’s hatred is hard for us as humans to comprehend since it appears so irrational. In The Hunger Games, this tragedy befalls poor Peeta.

Her mother is an unpleasant lady who resents her circumstances in life and passes them on to her kid in harsh ways. He is innocent of any wrongdoing and is not to blame for any of it. His mother beats him for little issues like burning bread and sharing it with a hungry person rather than the pigs. She ultimately wants Katniss to win the Hunger Games, indicating that if he died, she would be happier than if he survived the games.

#3 Divide them among allies

Creating dissension among those fighting against his objectives will appeal to a skilled manipulative villain. While getting away with their ultimate goals, the villain will delight in seeing friends rip each other apart.

#4 They’re often abused but not always!

A sibling, family friend, uncle, or spouse may have harmed them. This could have resulted in an emotional collapse or the conviction that everyone is horrible because they haven’t encountered a nice person in their lives. They could have been exploited by a coworker, supervisor, or many others along their journey.

Regardless of your character’s condition, exposing them to abuse as part of their original narrative is an excellent way to help readers comprehend why they behave the way they do.

#5 They know how to use the beliefs of heroes against them!

The emotionally abusive villain will take pleasure in reminding the hero of how ridiculous their beliefs are and how inferior that makes them compared to them if it appears that the Hero is about to lose and the villain wins.

Final Words

The exemplary manipulator character is a tricky one. It can be challenging to create an antagonist that readers will hate and love simultaneously. Use this guide to ensure your manipulative characters don’t fall flat!

What makes a good manipulator? Take note of critical traits like their hidden motives, unshakeable convictions, or strange beliefs. Sometimes, it might even help to read up on psychology before creating a villainous character. Just make sure not to veer too far from classic villains!

Related FAQs

What are some good TV Shows about human manipulation?

Don’t look any further if you’re seeking some fantastic TV series on human manipulation! Five shows that you might want to see are listed below.
1) The Office (US): This classic series follows the lives of employees working in an office setting and their interactions. While the show is primarily humorous, it has a few dark plot lines involving people willing to do anything to get what they want.
2) House of Cards (US): This political thriller follows the journey of Francis Underwood as he rises through the ranks of Washington, D.C.’s corrupt government machine. While Underwood is often charming and likable, something sinister also lurks beneath his surface that leads him down a path of corruption and deceit.
3) Game Of Thrones (US/UK): Based on George R. Martin’s best-selling book series, this infamous medieval fantasy drama tells the story of warring families vying for control over Westeros—and all its resources—with allies made and broken along the way. Casual fans will be entertained by Season 1, while die-hard devotees will devour every episode until Season 8 comes out next year.

How do you write a motivational villain?

Motivating villains can be a powerful tool for motivating other people. They are often characters representing challenges or obstacles the protagonist must overcome to achieve their goals. This makes them interesting and compelling, so it’s essential to write them well.
To create a motivational villain, you need to understand your audience. What do they want? What do they fear the most? Are there any common themes that run through their lives? It’s simple to start building your villain character once you have this information.
Next, find an inciting incident or event that motivates the villain and drives them towards achieving their goal at all costs. This should be something that is unexpected but inevitable nonetheless – after all, what good is a convincing motive if no one follows through on it? Be sure to research real-life villains for inspiration and make sure your character falls within those parameters!
Finally, develop the Supporting cast of villains who help guide/support/motivate/oppose the main antagonist along his journey towards victory (or whatever result he desires). These characters may vary in size and importance from scene to scene; however, making each unique will add extra layers of depth and intrigue during reading.

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