Get 25% OFF new yearly plans in our Spring Sale

Buy now
Inspiration Decks Character Traits 2023-12-02 00:00

Character Trait: Controlling

Character Trait Controlling

To engage your reader, it's important to always show not tell the traits of your characters. The character trait of being controlling refers to a tendency to exert excessive influence over others, often with the aim of gaining power or achieving a specific outcome. Individuals who exhibit this trait may feel the need to micromanage situations or people, and may struggle to delegate tasks or trust others to make decisions. They may also be prone to manipulation and may use guilt or fear to get their way. While some degree of control can be beneficial in certain situations, excessive control can be detrimental to personal relationships and can lead to feelings of resentment and frustration in those around them.

Contents:
  1. Possible causes of being controlling
  2. Behaviors associated with being controlling
  3. Attitudes associated with being controlling
  4. Thoughts and struggles associated with being controlling
  5. Emotions associated with being controlling
  6. Facial expressions associated with being controlling
  7. Body language associated with being controlling
  8. Behaviors associated with being controlling
  9. Growth and evolution of controlling characters
  10. Stereotypes of controlling characters to avoid
  11. Negatives of being controlling
  12. Positives of being controlling
  13. Verbal expressions of controlling characters
  14. Relationships of controlling characters
  15. Examples from books of characters who are controlling
  16. Writing exercises for writing controlling characters

Possible causes of being controlling

You might want to weave these into your character's back story to build a more believable character.

  • Trauma or past experiences of feeling powerless
  • Perfectionism or high standards
  • Difficulty with uncertainty or change
  • Fear of losing control or power
  • Narcissism or sense of entitlement
  • Insecurity or lack of trust in others
  • Desire for recognition or validation
  • Need for order or structure

For detailed feedback on controlling characters and other aspects of your writing, try ProWritingAid's literary critique platform.

Behaviors associated with being controlling

You may be able to show your character's trait of controlling by using these.

  • Insisting on having things done a certain way, even if it's not the most efficient or effective method
  • Setting strict rules or guidelines without flexibility
  • Refusing to consider other people's opinions or ideas
  • Reacting negatively when things don't go according to plan or when others challenge their authority
  • Micromanaging tasks and delegating responsibilities
  • Criticizing or belittling others' efforts or abilities
  • Dictating how others should behave or think
  • Taking credit for others' work or ideas

Attitudes associated with being controlling

You may be able to show controlling through their attitudes.

  • Need for order and structure
  • Desire for power and authority
  • Perfectionism and attention to detail
  • High expectations of themselves and others
  • Difficulty accepting criticism or feedback
  • Fear of losing control or being powerless
  • Difficulty trusting others to do things correctly
  • Tendency to micromanage or impose their will on others
  • Inflexibility and resistance to change

Thoughts and struggles associated with being controlling

Here are some ideas for things your controlling character may think or struggle with.

  • Feeling frustrated or angry when things don't go their way
  • Fear of failure or things not going according to plan
  • Difficulty trusting others to do things their way
  • Struggling with letting go of control and trusting others
  • Fear of vulnerability and letting others see their weaknesses or mistakes
  • Struggling with delegating tasks and feeling like they have to do everything themselves
  • Perfectionism and high standards for themselves and others
  • Always feeling the need to be in charge and micromanaging situations
  • A need for things to be done "right" or their way

Emotions associated with being controlling

Here are some ideas for emotions your controlling character may experience.

  • Anxious
  • Micromanagerial
  • Arrogant
  • Perfectionist
  • Obsessive
  • Power-hungry
  • Inflexible
  • Domineering
  • Fearful of losing control
  • Manipulative
  • Overbearing
  • Suspicious
  • Authoritative
  • Possessive

Facial expressions associated with being controlling

Here are some facial expressions your controlling character may exhibit.

  • Raised eyebrows in a disapproving or judgmental manner
  • Tightened jaw or lips pressed together
  • A tense or rigid facial expression, with limited movement
  • A curled upper lip, indicating disgust or disdain
  • A scowl or frown, indicating displeasure or frustration
  • Narrowed eyes or a piercing stare
  • A furrowed brow indicating deep concentration or concern
  • A pursed or tight-lipped expression, indicating withholding or restraint
  • A smirk or self-satisfied smile, indicating a sense of superiority

Body language associated with being controlling

Here is some body language your controlling character may exhibit.

  • Frequently crossing arms or legs
  • Invading personal space or leaning in close while talking
  • Displaying limited facial expressions or a stern facial expression
  • Making direct and unbroken eye contact
  • Using forceful gestures, such as slamming fists or objects on a table
  • Speaking in a loud or authoritative tone
  • Pointing or jabbing with fingers while speaking
  • Interrupting or talking over others
  • Standing or sitting tall with a straight back and shoulders back

For detailed feedback on controlling characters and other aspects of your writing, try ProWritingAid's literary critique platform.

Behaviors associated with being controlling

Here are some behaviors your controlling character may exhibit.

  • Reacting negatively when things don't go according to plan or when others challenge their authority
  • Setting strict rules or guidelines without flexibility
  • Refusing to consider other people's opinions or ideas
  • Micromanaging tasks and delegating responsibilities
  • Dictating how others should behave or think
  • Taking credit for others' work or ideas
  • Insisting on having things done a certain way, even if it's not the most efficient or effective method
  • Criticizing or belittling others' efforts or abilities

Growth and evolution of controlling characters

Here are some ways that your controlling character may grow and evolve over time.

  • Recognizing the value of collaboration and compromise in achieving their goals
  • Confronting and addressing the underlying fears or insecurities that drive their need for control
  • Letting go of the need for constant control and learning to trust others
  • Accepting responsibility for their actions and making amends for any harm caused by their controlling behavior
  • Realizing the negative impact of their controlling behavior on others and actively working to change it
  • Developing empathy and understanding for the perspectives and emotions of others
  • Learning to communicate their needs and desires in a healthy and respectful way, rather than through manipulation or coercion

Stereotypes of controlling characters to avoid

Try to avoid writing stereotypical controlling character like these examples.

  • Avoid making the controlling character unable to see the perspectives of others or unwilling to compromise.
  • Avoid making the controlling character manipulative or deceptive in a way that is unrealistic or cliché.
  • Avoid making the controlling character one-dimensional or solely focused on controlling others.
  • Avoid portraying the controlling character as always being angry or aggressive.
  • Avoid making the controlling character a villain or antagonist without any redeeming qualities or sympathetic backstory.

Negatives of being controlling

Here are some potential negatives of being controlling. Note: These are subjective and some might also be seen as positives depending on the context.

  • It can result in missed opportunities and closed doors due to inflexibility and a narrow focus.
  • It can limit personal growth and development by not allowing for new experiences or ideas.
  • It can lead to a lack of trust and respect from others.
  • It can strain relationships and cause conflict with others.
  • It can make it difficult to work effectively with others and collaborate on projects.
  • It can create stress and anxiety for both the controller and those being controlled.
  • It can lead to a sense of isolation and loneliness as others may distance themselves from the controller.
  • It can be seen as manipulative and unethical.

Positives of being controlling

Here are some potential positives of being controlling. Note: These are subjective and some might also be seen as negatives depending on the context.

  • Being accountable and responsible
  • Being proactive in problem-solving
  • Being able to make decisions quickly
  • Being able to prioritize and manage time effectively
  • Being able to set clear expectations and boundaries
  • Being confident in decision-making
  • Being organized and efficient
  • Being detail-oriented
  • Being able to maintain order and structure in chaotic situations

Verbal expressions of controlling characters

Here are some potential expressions used by controlling characters.

  • "Do it my way or else"
  • "I'm the boss"
  • "You need to listen to me"
  • "I'll handle everything"
  • "You're doing it wrong"
  • "I'll take care of it"
  • "I know what's best for you"
  • "You're not capable"
  • "I'll make the decisions"

Relationships of controlling characters

Here are some ways that being controlling could affect your character's relationships.

  • They may try to isolate their loved ones from their support systems.
  • They may use intimidation or threats to get what they want.
  • They may have difficulty compromising or considering others' needs and perspectives.
  • They may have a need for power and control in all aspects of their relationships.
  • Controlling people may use manipulation to get their way.
  • They may be critical and judgmental, often making their loved ones feel inadequate or inferior.
  • They may be possessive or jealous of their partners or friends.

Examples from books of characters who are controlling

  • Nurse Ratched from "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" by Ken Kesey
  • Dolores Claiborne from "Dolores Claiborne" by Stephen King
  • Tom Buchanan from "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Amy Dunne from "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn
  • Jack Torrance from "The Shining" by Stephen King
  • Professor Umbridge from "Harry Potter" by J.K. Rowling
  • Holden Caulfield from "The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger
  • Mrs. Danvers from "Rebecca" by Daphne du Maurier
  • Cathy Ames from "East of Eden" by John Steinbeck

Writing exercises for writing controlling characters

Here are some writing exercises you might try for learning to write controlling characters.

  • Have the character face a situation where they are not in control and must adapt to unexpected circumstances. How do they react?
  • Create a backstory for the character that explains why they feel the need to be in control. What motivates them?
  • Write a scene in which the character must learn to let go of control and trust someone else to handle a situation.
  • Write a scene in which the character is in a position of authority, such as a boss or a teacher, and must make a difficult decision that affects others.
  • Explore the character's relationships with others. How do they try to control those around them? How does this affect their relationships?
  • Write a scene in which the character's controlling behavior leads to negative consequences. How do they handle it?
  • Have the character interact with someone who challenges their authority or tries to undermine their control. How does the character respond?
Be confident about grammar

Check every email, essay, or story for grammar mistakes. Fix them before you press send.