So you're like freakishly talented at writing Darkiplier's attitude and personality and I was wondering if you could give some tips/guidelines you usually use to keep him in character? I seem to be having an extremely hard time not watering him down.
‘Freakishly talented’. I take that as the highest compliment. I might even print it and put it on my wall.
Writing Darkiplier is complicated but the simplest way I can explain how I write him without giving too much away in the future is: He’s the devil I know.
What I mean by that is that I write Darkiplier as a combination of:
- A specific social manipulator that I used to work for who nearly destroyed me as a person
- A manifestation of depression made flesh
- The worst parts of myself
The Social Manipulator is unfortunately a result of learning from my mistakes, and I certainly made lots of mistakes. Even years down the track I still can’t figure out whether everything he did was deliberate, or whether he did it all on accident and genuinely believes he’s a nice guy who’s hard done by.
The thing is, he was brilliant at manipulating people, whether he was intending to do it or not. I hate him with a passion but I’m still fascinated that he managed to do this to so many people. He had some twenty people cowed under his thumb at the same time all trapped in that workplace and not even thinking of leaving. Some he’d kept trapped for five years. These were not stupid people either, we were (and are) highly trained, intelligent, compassionate people dedicated to our profession, and yet he still managed to break down each and every one of us until we felt both unable to leave and grateful to even have our jobs.
I don’t recall him outright lying either, but he could certainly bend a half-truth. This is a characteristic I try to use in Darkiplier. Anyone can manipulate you with lies, but it takes style to manipulate you with truths. You can call a lie out for what it is, but you can’t deny a truth.
Part of how this social manipulator from my past managed to get his hooks into so many people is that he targeted our strengths. And humans naturally play to their own strengths, so doing so kept us putting up with his behaviour far longer than any of us should have. And he continued to wear down our strengths until they failed us.
This is something I try to have Darkiplier do frequently, in small ways. You think you’re smart? No, stop being stupid. You think you’re tough? Aw, how adorable that you think that. It’s undermining with frequent, small jabs and it works when the other person is supremely confident about putting you down.
Now, he would of course take advantage of any weakness that presented itself, but he didn’t go seeking them. He just waited for them to appear.
I don’t want to rant too much about this particular individual, and I know I have the potential to do so because I often catch up with other people he’d manipulated and that it what we inevitably do, but notable feats he managed to accomplish with his manipulation of us included convincing one woman to disobey her doctor’s orders and risk a second stroke for his benefit, and convinced another woman to sell her home, move back interstate, relocate he entire family including her 3 month old baby to come back to work for him, even after she already knew what he was like.
Markiplier is absolutely correct when he says social manipulators are the worst kind of people.
The manifestation of depression aspect is something I consider in regards to methods. Depression is often subtle, creeping in slowly, and as an illness seems to actively try to convince you that nothing is actually wrong, that everything is fine, so you shouldn’t fight. It also carries an inevidable sense of doom.
With Darkiplier, I write him not so much as trying to avoid a fight, but as trying to convince you that you don’t want to fight. You want to do nothing, you want to give in. It’s your own fault, not his. And other sneaky depressive ways of thinking.
(Compare this to Anti, who I partly think of as a manifestation of Anxiety, but that’ another topic)
Depression is often romanticised in media too, and that’s also something that’s happened with Darkiplier, and I’m not sure how I feel about it. On the one hand it is nice to think maybe you can learn to live with and get along with depression, but on the other hand it still is what it is.
The worst parts of myself are to do with Darkiplier being a dark reflection of a person. Quick to anger, insincere, vengeful. You can take any good part or positive quality of a person and twist them into something bad. Turn ‘this person is smart’ into ‘this person makes others feel stupid’. Turn ‘this person is helpful’ to ‘this person could help you, and you’re pathetic enough to need it’.
To make Darkiplier a suitable villain there are a few more tricks I use:
- He knows more than he reveals
- He never explains his motive
- He doesn’t concede defeat, but will allow you ‘breathing space’
- Some things are just about style
- He has to control himself before he can control anything else
- Preference towards longer and more ‘sophisticated’ words without becoming verbose
- Never rewards you, but will remove a punishment/negative thing for obedience.
- Promises are never specific
- Is right in his observations at least 80% of the time
I don’t know if that helps, because a lot of my Darkiplier characterisation is based on personal experience.