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Author Topic: How do you flesh out a manipulative character?  (Read 137 times)

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Offline Lewd Cat

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How do you flesh out a manipulative character?
« on: November 15, 2017, 01:19:36 AM »
I'm planning to make an interesting manipulative and schemer type of person. He is not an antagonist nor a villain but more on a messenger. He carries out this responsibility for his own brethren's sake- to save them. I wonder how could I do this, any tips?

Offline MadOxMalachi

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Re: How do you flesh out a manipulative character?
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2017, 07:52:29 AM »
I'm not understanding fleshed out in this context, what do you want to know exactly?

Offline Lewd Cat

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Re: How do you flesh out a manipulative character?
« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2017, 08:53:52 AM »
I mean how will you make the reader that this manipulative character is not bad- full of mystery and i don't want to give all the clues. Or are there any options?

Offline araithiel

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Re: How do you flesh out a manipulative character?
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2017, 10:25:32 AM »
It's pretty ok to make a manipulative character appear to be bad and they can just do things that are not to indicate they are not.

I think the issue here is the focus on making a manipulative character. That's a two-dimensional approach. You're not making a manipulative character. You're making a person who happens to lean towards being manipulative and scheming. If you'd like to flesh them out for the audience, you need to flesh them out for yourself.

Who is this character?

Why do they pick the path of manipulating other people?

Why do they pick it instead of physical violence or wits or any other option?

What drives them forward in life overall? What are they trying to achieve? What brought them to that point out of all other possible paths?

What are they like when they aren't being part of some scheme? What makes them do good or bad acts?

When you can answer a lot of these, they'll become apparent and evident in your writing as well, because you know the reasons behind someone's actions. Then you're writing someone not to "show a manipulative character being good" but just because that's who that person happens to be.
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Offline Lewd Cat

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Re: How do you flesh out a manipulative character?
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2017, 12:39:25 PM »
Thank you very much! This is what I am looking for! Many ideas rushed to my mind. So, thank you very much again!

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Re: How do you flesh out a manipulative character?
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2017, 03:28:38 PM »
This is actually a neat question to ask, since it applies to other socially-imbued and charged personality traits such as being manipulative, or promiscuous, or other things deemed "less than okay" usually. I see that your main question has already been answered, and Araithiel did an excellent job covering it. If I may, I'd just like to go a little more into my own processes regarding things like this.

I don't think it's a bad thing in writing to start off with an idea such as "I'd like a manipulative character to play the role of a messenger"--in fact, it can be helpful to scaffold and build up other main points of the story. It all comes down to fine-tuning and determining how you will present this to the audience in a way that is believable. That's always the tricky part.

Araithiel's explanation is a fantastic way of going about finding a solution to that problem, but I would also add that it can be inspiring to also look at how other authors and creators have handled a similar character, if you can think of one. That's not to say that you should copy that, but that you should look between the lines and see why what works works and why what doesn't doesn't.

The other thing I'd add is to remember that the audience will need guidance and context in order to understand any character, and the best way to do that is to show rather than to tell. That is, rather than giving exposition, have the character show who they are in action, by making decisions or even facial gestures in response to an event, as opposed to stating something like "Bob felt annoyed." Instead, something like "Bob's eye twitched as he quickly recalculated the situation" gives us more of the character and more of what's going on. You don't have to worry so much about explaining the why all at once since it can unfold for the audience as the actions progress.

I hope this also helps bump your ideas forward, and...wow, welcome to the forum, all of you. I don't think I've met any of you since I've been...less than present lately.
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