I adapted this blog series from a section of an online workshop I conducted for Writers & Books in March 2020.
Deciding a character’s alignment helps determine how they act during their adventures. I find it helpful to think about how each alignment would behave in the same circumstances because it highlights the differences between each alignment.
Here’s the scene:
A character is in a market and encounters a thief who has stolen from them in a previous incident. The thief doesn’t see the character yet, so they have time to react. How will they act?
A neutral good character would offer to buy the thief lunch. The thief is obviously in need, why else would she have stolen? Compassion motivates the neutral good character. He will fix people (or living beings) first, problems second. If his dilemma involves a theft, he sees a thieving soul suffering as the issue, not a missing item.
Defining Neutral Good Characters
Neutral good characters might not be religious, but they radiate the altruism you see in spiritual leaders and monks. His benevolence extends to all people, and creatures depending on the setting. This is the only positive alignment willing to protect all other alignments because a neutral good character’s charity transcends both the nature of those in need and the law of the land. Their indifference to the law means these characters often sympathize with rebels fighting subjugation.
Also unique to the neutral good character is his extension of his alignment. He sees the rest of his world as neutral good as well. His reasoning for the evil deeds and poor behavior of others depends on his background and personal philosophy. He may see the cause of evil as a response to suffering, or think people inherently good, with a few missteps. Humble heroes, generous mentors, and classic princesses fall under this alignment.
Neutral Good Character Development
There is a myriad of ways you can develop this character. New on his journey, a neutral good character may be naïve and become world-wise within his story arc. On the other hand, an already world-weary neutral good character may help others, but neglect himself, resulting in issues in his personal relationships, that he must work to amend. Finally, a neutral good hero could expand his heroics, first aiding his friends, then his city, then the entire world.
Neutral Good Character Examples
Gandalf from The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings trilogy wishes everyone well as he uses his powers to fight evil. He cares about everyone, from the tiniest hobbit to the mightiest of kings. Gandalf’s good deeds are organized and strategic; he has learned how to maximize his heroics.
Sherlock Holmes seems to work to uphold the law, but he endeavors outside of it whenever necessary. Holmes helps those who need it, regardless of their history or social station. Really, he’s not an agent of the law, but an agent of human compassion.
Geralt from The Witcher is a compelling case because he wishes he were truly neutral, but he’s neutral good. He has an awareness of his alignment and the desire, but inability, to change it. Geralt is lax in personal care and relationship maintenance, which is a reoccurring theme with many neutral good characters.
You know my methods. Next week I'm writing about neutral evil characters.