A Hard Man is Good to Find – Fear of the Alpha

I think you’ll all know by now that when it comes to heroes, I’m an alpha girl all the way. I like a hard man. A man who doesn’t take any crap from anyone. A take charge, protective man. And most especially a tortured man. Mmmmmm….tortured man….*Homer Simpson donut noise*


So anyway with all this alpha-love going on around Ashenden House, it annoys the crap out of me that in my latest WIP I keep softening up my hero. I kept doing it with the skeikh and I did it in the ms before that too. In fact I keep softening them up so much that they may as well be blouses instead of alpha heroes. And not in the billowy, loose, cool pirate shirt way. More in a frilly, girly way. May as well have put a pussy-bow on them and called them Fanny.

I know why I’m doing it of course. In my head I’m thinking frantically ‘he MUST be sympathetic!’. And ‘there MUST be some soft moments right NOW!’. And ‘he MUST be likeable!’. Argh. So I keep making him gentler, making him likeable and sympathetic and….well….soft. Which for an alpha Presents hero isn’t really all that good. Because people don’t read them because they like soft men. They like them because of their powerful, alpha hot men. Who aren’t soft in ANY way.

Sigh. My real problem is the fact that in the last couple of WIPs my heroines have been strong. Very, very strong and ballsy. And that’s a problem because you have to have a hero who is even stronger and ballsier than she is. He must win their encounters – at least at the beginning. Which kind of scares me a little because I’m worried about all the things like not being sympathetic, not being likeable, hearing the word ‘alp-hole’ in my head. Opening up that alpha box all the way is scary.

However, what I need to remember is this: his motivation is EVERYTHING. No, he may not be likeable. No, he may not be sympathetic. What he needs to be is understandable. He has to have good reasons for doing what he does and if he’s properly motivated he can get away with a lot. I know I’ll forgive a hero a lot if I can understand why he acts the way he does.

The second thing I have to remember is that at the heart of the alpha is a good man. Whether he thinks he is or not, underneath everything, he’s the protector, the carer, the defender. Yes, he can act like an a-hole sometimes when he believes he’s right. Yes, he might sometimes be a little scary when he’s threatened. Yes, he’ll fight like crazy not to be vunlnerable. But fundamentally he’s a good person.

Which brings me to my current WIP. I need to get over my fear of letting my hero be who he is, which is one hell of an angry SOB. So angry in fact that my MOC story is turning into a revenge tale because he was NOT happy with just a MOC. He wanted more.

So I can’t go softening him up because it’s not in his character (soft guys don’t really pursue revenge so single-mindedly). Plus the fact that his heroine won’t take any crap, especially from him. In fact the past couple of days I’ve been rewriting a particular chapter because I realised I’d pulled back on him. So I rewrote it and just let him have his head and honestly, writing it was like watching a car-crash. You just can’t look away. I kept writing and thinking, ‘what did she say to him? Oh my god, this is going to be bad’. And then I wrote more and it’s like ‘Oh no, he did not just do that!’ It was actually kind of awesome. Because it finally felt like he was being who he was. 🙂

Right, so, my lesson for all those afraid of the alpha, is basically don’t hold back on him. Give him the proper motivation (and not just because his mummy didn’t wuv him). And trust him to be a good man. He may not be intially sympathetic or likeable, but as long as the reader can understand him, then they’ll forgive him a lot. Oh and if he’s a really bad boy, nothing like a good grovel at the end. 🙂

Anyone else have trouble with their alphas? Or are you a beta girl?

6 thoughts on “A Hard Man is Good to Find – Fear of the Alpha”

  1. I think you have to write the hero that rings true to you. Let it rip and the editor can tell you if you need to dial it down. The beauty of Presents is that intense alpha male and the emotion that brings to the page. Romance readers are very good at looking at the tiny clues that show you who the hero really is as a person. If YOU understand him and love him and let the reader get inside his head and see him as an individual, the reader will work from the insight and the tiny clues, understand him and see him as sympathetic.

    And don’t spend too much energy worrying about people who might not like super alpha. Those readers probably won’t pick up a Presents and besides for every person that doesn’t like that type of hero, there are many that do!
    It’s kind of like being in high school and tying yourself into knots trying to change to get other kids to like you (or maybe that’s more common in
    America than New Zealand?).
    In high school, I accepted the wisdom of the great philosopher, Popeye. “I yam what I yam.”
    You are who you are a writer and your hero is who he is as hero.

    I enjoy Presents, but I could never write a super intense Alpha like that. It’s just not in my toolbox, at least not yet. I start out with a a hero who is very Beta and have to “alpha him up” along the way. So I say if you’ve got that gift, embrace it!

  2. Jill – what fabulous advice!! Thank you so much. You’re so right! I do tie myself up knots hoping people will understand him like I do. But yes, it’s all in the details isn’t it? The tiny clues he’s a good man under all the gruff. I hope I’ve done that.

    But yeah, he is what he is and things go wrong with the story when I soften him up.
    I might have to put Popeye up on my monitor so I remember!

    And go you with your alpha-ing up!

  3. I lean more towards the RIVA heroes. Although technically alpha, they’re allowed to be relaxed with outward senses of humour, so not nearly as hardcore Alpha as Presents! I don’t mind a beta man either, to be honest (although I may be in the wrong place to admit that!)

    It’s great that you’re really letting your hero loose. He’ll become a much more believable character if he just acts how he wants. As Jill said, readers always pick up a romance wanting to like the hero. We can spot redeeming qualities a mile off, no matter how small they are to start with 🙂

  4. Madeline – hehe. I quite like Riva heroes too but actually, the Presents hero can be relaxed as well. I’ve read some very easy-going (at least on the surface) Presents heroes. It’s all in the character I reckon. Poor old Mr Rough isn’t that bad. He’s pretty wounded though.

  5. I withdraw my comment 🙂 I’ve made it obvious I don’t read enough Presents to make generalisations! There are definitely authors whose Presents I read, and when Mr Rough hits the shelves, yours will be another. Perhaps you’ll convert me!

  6. Madeline – I didn’t think you were making generalisations at all – sorry if I did. 🙂 The heroes for those lines ARE different. I do think Presents heroes are, as a rule, harder. But it can be a tone thing. Difficult to articulate actually.
    Ha re Mr Rough on the shelves. I wish. 🙂

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