Copied from the Magical Words blog on November 25, 2015
Tamsin Silver is part of the Magical Words crew. Living in New York City she rarely slows down, regularly publishing books, writing the web series Skye of the Damned, and being an awesome panelist and blogger, willingly sharing her hard-won knowledge of writing, directing, and producing. She is an amazing person in writing and in person.
In November, she wrote an informative blog (Some People Just Want to Watch the World Burn) on character building using age-old D&D alignments. The grids she found (see above for an example), really help define things. I loved the Harry Potter one with the additional “between” alignments which increased the full range of alignments to 25. That one is an absolute must see to get the full impact of the discussion.
Central to the blog is characters do not need to remain one alignment. In fact, amazing writing happens when characters change during the story. For example, for me one of the most powerful plots within Babylon 5 is when Londo Mollari character flaws drag him from the seemingly chaotic good into evil because he really was lawful – totally loyal to his failed empire. And other characters move in reaction to his descent into darkness, G’Kar goes from slime to saint and Vir Cotto goes from bumbling to iron. J. Michael Straczynski was a virtuoso as he played with our expectations. His characters slid around the alignment chart like it was an ice rink.
WRITING EXERCISE: After reviewing the Some People Just Want to Watch the World Burn, look at your present work-in-progress. What alignment are your main characters? Do they change during the story?
In Honestly, my self-published novel, Kassandra, the heroine, would be Neutral Good. She is just trying to raise her child right and get ahead within society. In the expanded alignment chart she would fall under Social Good. As she faces different situations, she may slide around the chart. At the end of the day her first loyalty is to family, not any particular moral code.Troy, the hero, is lawful good. Very little could change him from this position. But like Kassandra, he is loyal to family before all. I don’t see the lawful ever budging, but what will he do to protect Kassandra and Terrell?
Dewayne, Kassandra’s ex, would be Chaotic Neutral, himself before anyone, and on the expanded version he would be Rebel Neutral. He is never mean or cruel deliberately, but his selfishness, if he doesn’t get a handle on it, could slide him into Impure or even Evil. Kassandra’s son, Terrell, at the moment is the Chaotic Neutral of a child. The world should revolve around him, and he cannot even understand how it does not. The question will be as he grows, which of the adults around him will impact his moral code: Kassandra, Dewayne, or Troy? … I have some ideas and you may see these characters again, as they live in my Queen City Coven world.
YOUR TURN: Comment below on your WIP characters alignments, and speculate if their alignments are fixed or malleable.