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10-21 Sarah Raplee – Author of “Blindsight” Psychic Agents Series, Book One

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Alpha Male

by Donna Hatch, Regency Romance and Fantasy Author

Whether you love romance novels or fantasy or mainstream fiction, readers love alpha males in stories--strong, resolute, dedicated, and a born leader. But how does one capture that in writing?

The Alpha Hero is Top Dog

In a wolf pack, there is only one Alpha Male. In Disney’s cartoon version of Tarzan, when the leopard, Sabore wounded Kerchek, Tarzan jumped in to protect the family and Kerchek. He later takes over that role as the leader of the family. He was the perfect alpha male, for many reasons.

He’s usually bigger, stronger, more focused and more self-sufficient than the others in his pack, clan, family, or town.

He’s also sometimes wounded, either in body or heart because he’s often impacted by external change, often tragic. And I absolutely love the wounded hero because he's so conflicted and needs the love of the heroine to help him heal.

He is often alone. Think of the classic cowboy who rides into town, rights a wrong, and rides off into the sunset. There isn’t much room at the top, and he keeps his emotions carefully locked away.

Alpha heroes are referred to as the strong, silent type. Men typically talk less than women, with a few notable exceptions, but the Alpha Male will let his actions speak for him.

He cares little for public opinion because he has his own internal sense of justice, or code of honor. He may fall sometimes, but he will never be broken.

The Alpha Hero Never Runs from a Fight

He’s extremely driven to right injustice and to protect those he loves, or those over whom he has stewardship. He’s the one who would say “I couldn’t not act.”

They never worry about dying, they assume they will, but they will fight as long as they live.

They often cannot explain their motives and typically don’t care to discuss them even if they understand them. Remember the man of few words part?

The alpha male will never leave someone in peril. Or if he feels he should leave against his better judgment, it will tear him up and he will either ‘come to his senses’ and return, or avenge himself in some way.

The Alpha Hero Has Tremendous Emotional Appeal
The closer someone gets to what, or who, the alpha hero cherishes, the more guarded he becomes. That which makes him strong, makes him weak, too. That’s why his is so fiercely protective of the woman, children, families he loves. He often views them as his vulnerable spot, and worry that his enemies will strike at them by harming his loved ones.

This is why the alpha hero appeal so much to women; they are an emotional fantasy. Women want to be respected, cherished, protected. The Alpha Hero can’t find the haven he wants without his heroine. His emotions are locked up until he meets her. She saves him from loneliness and despair, and she provides comfort. He would never abandon his mate, even if he must temporarily move physically away.

The Alpha Hero can be a Sophisticated Lover

Think James Bond (Pierce Brosnan was my favorite James Bond, btw.) He is cool, suave, has tremendous control and his confidence and is larger than life. He would never use brute force or domination. He has a keen wit and is extremely intelligent.

There must be chemistry between the alpha hero and his heroine. The female is never UNaware of him. He has lots of energy, even when he’s at rest. He is very confident and expects others to give in because he is very persuasive.

Love Transforms The Alpha Hero
He appears tough, jaded, even rough on the outside, but he is tender and has strong emotions deep, deep inside.

He has a predatory instinct and will protect and defend at all costs, even his own life. Because he is so loyal and protective, he will watch other people’s back, and always protect those who are weak and cannot fight, and all women and children.

He will also help prepare boys to become men, sort of a mentor, and will guide boys into manhood, instilling in them his values and commitment. 

He doesn’t need perfect harmony, but he needs to complete his mission before he can move on. He would never leave unfinished business.

The Alpha Hero Needs an Alpha Female
He will go to the ends of the earth for the right woman. An alpha female is intelligent and a woman of strong convictions who will not be bullied into going against her principles. She is someone who will protect home and children while he is away and become fierce when those she loves are threatened. She’s is the perfect Mother Bear protecting her cubs. He cannot have home and family without her there to watch his back.

So, how do we use the Alpha Male in writing?

Work his flaws; pride, stubbornness, they way he can be unyielding and won’t accept others' help or sacrifice. He has difficulty accepting love, and difficulty expressing emotions – he speaks physically rather than verbally. We must give them external conflict to confront. Force them to choose between two worthy causes, or between their honor and their heart. I heard once that to create a good story, we should strand our characters up in a tree with no way to climb down and then throw rocks at them. Seeing them find a way to overcome their trials is the stuff of good stories. The Alpha Male will always triumph; he will never fail because he never gives up.

And that is the stuff of great stories!

4 comments:

Sarah Raplee said...

Another Alpha characteristic for both sexes is resourcefulness. They work with what they've got and manage to win.

Great post, Donna!

Karen Duvall said...

It's great to be reminded what an alpha hero is. I sometimes have a problem with my heroine trying to take over the alpha spot, which creates effective complications or derails the story. My bad. I have to watch that. Thanks, Donna, for the pointers! :)

Paty Jager said...

Great Alpha post, Donna!

Judith Ashley said...

Hi Donna,

Wonderful summary of Alpha Male characteristics and it comes shortly after Laurie Schnebly Campbell's post on the Alpha Female.

I particularly like the list of characteristics that implies or shows the character's arc rather than the Hero's Journey process.

Thanks! (Pierce Brosnan is one of my favorties! Loved him in Remington Steele (not much of a movie watcher).