You should not be looking to control these things on the negative. You want the negative to pick up all the detail and you want to control the look of the print, in print.

Some films have stronger contrast characteristics than others, for example if you were to use Ilford Delta 100 or PanF instead of HP5. Panf or Delta 100 have a much higher acutance and contrast than HP5. The best thing you can do is select the right film that works for you, expose it correctly and develop it in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.

Once you have a film that under controlled and recommended exposure and development conditions gives you the characteristics you are looking for, the rest follows in the darkroom and is easily achieved using variable contrast papers.

I would recommend trying Ilford HP5. It is a versatile and forgiving film that may suit the look you are after. Out of interest, which film are you currently using?