What is your protag's moral code?
This week the Criminal minds are discussing the moral codes of our characters. For starters, there are many examples of moral codes throughout the world. Some are simple. Others are more complex. Some are admirable. Others...not so much. Regardless of where they fall, the various moral codes of the human world serve a purpose: to guide the behavior of a majority of decent, law-abiding people.
Notice I said "human world." What if your protagonist isn't and never was human?
Vampires are peculiar creatures. They live and move within a human world. They appear very much like humans and can easily pass for human with a few minor physical alterations -- most notably the filing down and capping of fangs. Contacts can take care of the pesky shifting eye color issue. But when you're physically faster and stronger than your neighbors, not to mention dependant on their blood for your survival, what keeps you from taking over the world?
The answer is a strict moral code. Luckily, most of the vampires Alexandra Sabian encounters adhere to this universal vampire code. There are exceptions. If there weren't her job as an Enforcer would quickly become obsolete.
Because vampires have a strong sense of community among their kind, the unwritten universal code is both simple and far-reaching. Alex, and most of her kin, follow six basic moral laws:
1. Never take by force from one what is freely offered by others. This is the Blood Law. Vampires rely on their human donors for survival. To mistreat one, or to force a human into a donor role, is the greatest offense to the community.
2. Respect is not a privilege. Respect is earned. Show the proper respect to community elders and to your human counterparts.
3. Each vampire is responsible for his or her own actions. Failure to accept that responsibility will not be tolerated within the community. Foolish and risky actions that endanger the greater community will be met with swift and deadly consequences.
4. Exercise control and do not allow the blood-hunger to consume you. Vampires are not monsters incapable of rational thought. Blood is intoxicating but never your need for it to cloud your mind to the point of overindulgence or carelessness.
5. Honor your family.
6. Respect the sanctity of established havens. The haven is our sacred space and the haven master's world is law. Obey these laws.
Simple and yet complex, these laws have governed the behavior of generations of vampires and will continue to guide those to come.
And for those who choose to ignore this code... Well, Alex will be waiting for them.
Jeannie Holmes is the author of the Alexandra Sabian series and fears spiders, large bodies of water, and bad weather. She moved from the backwoods of southwestern Mississippi to the Alabama Gulf Coast where she now lives with her husband and four neurotic cats.