As I’ve been writing my pilot, I’ve been wishy-washy on nailing down the aspects of my characters. Character development has always been a scary word for me. When I used to act and it came to building my character, I always felt I never did enough. Not enough back story, I didn’t like to pick out their favorite foods, and creating memories…ugh! I even hated coming up with physicality. I was always more focused on the script and what the character wanted, ’cause that’s all I was really ever taught in school.
Now as I’ve been writing I’ve let the story come out and the characters present themselves naturally. But for the sake of making my show bible (a document that fully encompasses characters, plot lines, back story, concept, etc) I really need to nail down the characters.
Furthermore TV lives on characters. TV is formulaic, predictable, and repetitive. What we keep coming back for are the characters. Even reality TV is about our connection with the contestants. So now that I have my challenge, how do I accomplish it?
Well today I’ve been pondering Alignment.
“Alignment is a categorization of the ethical and moral perspective of people, creatures, and societies.”
Thanks Wikipedia! Essentially is your character good or evil? But extended to another dimension: chaotic vs lawful. Lawful means you follow the rules of the society in power while chaotic means you want to tear down that society. The grid looks like this…
So as you can see someone can follow the rules of society and can be evil, Lawful Evil. Darth Vader, Stringer Bell, The Capital in the Hunger Games. Meanwhile Chaotic Good would see a character that hates the rules of society and wants to tear it down, but is morally strong. Rorschach, Malcolm Reynolds, Princess Leia. And from the chart there is a third category in both, Neutral (with respect to moral and societal alignments.) A neutrally societal character doesn’t let the rules of the world around them influence their behavior. Neutral good characters? Wolverine, Han Solo. Neutral evil? the Aliens from Alien, Boba Fett.
It is interesting to ponder what these character alignments are saying when we get behind them. When we identify with a chaotic character, does it imply that we feel disenfranchised by own system or society? Chaotic alignment embodies the rebel.
Is there a place for the Lawful Hero? Who wants to root for the guy supporting the establishment? When was the last time anyone was nuts over Superman? But maybe there’s something about fighting for something bigger than yourself, (ideologies?) even when others around your don’t understand it (John Locke, Professor Xavier.)
And how does a Neutral Good protagonist speak to us? They’re lost. They don’t trust the system, because they either don’t have the courage to tear it down or are too apathetic to care. Or maybe just only answer to themselves. Some would argue that Wolverine was chaotic, but I think he’s neutral. At his happiest, he’s in a log cabin in Canada, chopping wood, and being left alone. But he’s not really torn between sides.