The Writer and Character Alignments

When writing about a hero are they the type to stay within the bounds of the law or do they do whatever it takes to get the job done? And just how evil is your villain? Not sure then keep reading!

Over the last week or so I’ve been reading articles by fellow writers, namely Victoria Grefer, and the discussion of Heroes, Villains, Anti-types and Arch-types. But what makes characters Heroes or Villains? Usually it’s the decisions they make when posed with certain situations or encounters. From that an alignment is created.

What Alignment Means

David Noonan of Wizards of the Coast tells us what alignment means:

Alignment is central to a D&D character’s personality. D&D uses two measures to determine a specific character’s ethical and moral attitudes and behavior.

The moral axis has three positions: good, neutral and evil. Good characters generally care about the welfare of others. Neutral people generally care about their own welfare. Evil people generally seek to harm the others’ welfare.

The ethical axis has three positions as well: lawful, neutral, and chaotic. Lawful people generally follow the social rules as they understand them. Neutral people follow those rules find convenient or obviously necessary. And chaotic people seek to upset the social order and either institute change, or simply create anarchy.

Choosing Alignments

You don’t have to be knowledgeable in role-playing to understand the benefits of know what alignment your character is. But it helps to serve your story better if you knew whether your hero was Sir Lancelot or Robin Hood.

To figure out what alignment is right for your character click on this link here. You will answer a series of basic questions as how your character would react and the results will be given at the end. Hope fully this will give you a better understanding of your character.

 What Would Your Character Do?

Another great source is the book What Would Your Character Do? written by Eric Maisel, Ph.D. and Ann Maisel. In this book they provide a series of scenarios and options as to how your character would react. It goes a step further and shares the psychological outcome based on the selected response. In the back of the book is a section of recommended reading of short stories in which some of the scenarios are played out to give you a better of idea of the responses.

Further Reading

A of couple other books that I would recommend are written by Victoria Lynn Schmidt. They are: 45 Master Characters and Writer’s Guide to Characterization. Victoria explores the characters of Greek Mythology and applies it to characters today.

So what kind of alignment are your characters? Take the test and let me know the results by posting in the comments below. Good luck and Happy Adventuring!

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