Maybe it’s emotional, possibly it’s emotional. But one way or one more, manipulation is a favorite tool of fictional personalities everywhere.

You are watching: How to write a manipulative character

However, tbelow are many poorly created manipulators out there. So here is the Pro Story Builder’s overview to composing a manipulative character.


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(Image courtesy of Pixabay)

When you’re writing, you have the right to display the character gaining trust by:

Saving their future victims from something poor (perhaps a monster or a organic disaster)Helping others with their personal resides (i.e. they erected a blind day, or provide excellent financial advice)Acting favor an allySharing secrets through them

Once your characters trust the manipulator, they are less complicated to fool.


There are numerous widespread indications to help you tell if you’re being manipulated, and also it’s a great concept to know these signs before you sit down to write a manipulative character.

The line between mental and emotional manipulation is a little blurry. A great manipulator will use both, so I haven’t separated them below.

Some common indications of manipulation include:

They get their victim ameans from acquainted area.

This might be as basic as “Let’s satisfy at my home,” or as facility as taking them to one more country. Anything that makes the victim feel out of area.

2. They isolate.

A manipulative perkid does not desire their victim to seek exterior counsel or obtain comfort from someone else.

We have the right to see an extreme instance of this in cults, wright here the cult members are cut off from the exterior civilization.

This might be physical isolation, choose Rapunzel’s tower in Tangled, or it may be emotional isolation. Either means, the goal is to store the victim amethod from the external human being.

3. They become super close, super fast.


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Keep in mind, they can be doing this on objective (if someone backs them into a corner and also they have to conserve their own skin), or they can not also realize they’re doing it.

Your character’s personality and the specific scene are the many important details right here. Does your character think around who to blame before they act? Or carry out they simply blame whatever on their victim, regardmuch less of what it is?

Two Types of Manipulators

According to Sharie Stines, in an write-up through TIME magazine, tright here are 2 kinds of manipulators: the victim and also the bully.

If the manipulator is playing the victim, he is trying to make you feel sorry for him, so that you’ll do what he desires. If the manipulator is the bully, she will yell and kick and also scream until you provide in and also let her have what she desires. (Usually we contact these tantrums.)

Your manipulative character should switch earlier and forth in between the 2, relying on the situation.

For example, they attempt the victim card initially, yet nobody drops for it, so they revolve into the bully.

Example: Mother Gothel

I’m not certain that hasn’t checked out Tangled yet, but simply in case, here’s your spoiler warning.


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~Teases her and also calls her “sloppy, underdressed, immature, clumsy,” “ditzy,” etc.

~Plays the victim beforehand, then switches to the bully as soon as Rapunzel rebels

Not only does Rapunzel have to obtain physical distance from her “mom,” however she likewise has to acquire some emotional distance in order to break cost-free from Mother Gothel.

Not Every Manipulator Feels Guilty

It’s crucial to remember that these personalities don’t always feel negative.

They are pursuing their objectives.

They don’t see themselves as poor men.

So as soon as your character is manipulating someone else, they can think, “I’m working towards my goal. The ends justify the suggests.”

Example: Light Yagami


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~Attempts to manipulate L, by utilizing peer pressure to “prove” his innocence

~Switches from playing the victim to the bully as essential.

Light Yagami is an extremely expert manipulator, and also might have won versus L and also Near, if he hadn’t made a pair of critical mistakes early in the series. If you want to write a character who is manipulative, pay attention to Light Yagami.

Now, let’s go ago to just how you deserve to compose a manipulative character.


(Image courtesy of Pixabay.com)

It can be as simple as offering them a real frifinish who helps them feel valued, or your character can occupational on giving themselves some positive affirmations.

Your character can show indications of depression or PTSD, depending on just how significant the manipulation was.

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It’s necessary to present some hope for personalities that have actually been manipulated.

Your readers might be in an abusive or manipulative relationship. If your personalities simply sit back and also take the abuse, that have the right to be extremely discouraging to your readers.

So at the least, try to acquire your characters amethod from their manipulator by the end of the story. Or, provide them a great support mechanism. Or both.

Your story can inspire someone to stand up for themselves. This is an remarkable opportunity for you to make a large distinction in someone’s life!

What is your stance on manipulative characters? Have you tried creating them before? Let me know in the comments!