Alrighty, so this is a late post, I know but I’ve been deep in deadline hell and haven’t had time to breathe let alone post.
Jill asked me a couple of weeks ago about writing alpha males and since I love alphas, I thought I’d just whack my thoughts down and stick em up in a post.
So. The glorious alpha. Loathed and loved in equal measure. How does one write such a fabulous beast?
First up, think on this: if you want to write a decent alpha male you have to find them sexy.
I know that seems self-evident but if you’re only writing an alpha because that’s what the publisher you’re targeting wants then stop. If you don’t find your hero sexy then no one else will either.
I write alphas because I find alphas sexy. I don’t think I could write a beta hero convincingly because I’d be forever trying to make him more alpha. If you find you keep trying to make your alpha more beta, don’t fight it. Write a gorgeous, funny, sexy beta and you’ll sell your book.
However, if alphas are your bag, then by all means, keep reading.
Right, so, alphas get a lot flak for being controlling douchebags and a-holes. In fact, a well written alpha MIGHT be both a douchebag and an a-hole but they will also be redeemable douchebags and a-holes. Because at the heart of an alpha hero – hell, of EVERY hero – is the fact that he’s a good man. Remember that. He might cover up his goodness with a layer of assholishness and douchebaggery (thanks Maisey Yates for the word), but underneath it, he’s essentially a good guy with a huge capacity for love.
For me, the key to writing a good alpha hero is character. An alpha hero is a man (obvs). And not just a man but a person. What I mean by that is that his alpha-ness is not the whole extent of his personality. He will have personality traits, a history, opinions, likes and dislikes. In other words he’s not a cardboard cutout with the words ALPHA stamped across him in large friendly letters. This is where alphas get a bad rap in my opinion. When writers create a hero who acts like a dick purely because they’re alpha males and all alpha males act like dicks.
An alpha hero MAY act like a dick but what stops him from being cardboard cutout is motivation. Giving the heroine a punishing kiss because that’s what an alpha male does, does not equal motivation. That equals a lack of understanding about character by the writer. Giving the heroine a punishing kiss because she’s talking and making him feel things he doesn’t want to feel and he can’t think of a good way to make her stop is motivation. Sure, he’s still a dick but then men are dicks sometimes.
So first in your list of things to remember when creating your alpha hero is to make them a person, not a cliché. They have the same fears and needs as everyone else. And that makes writing a post about how to write them difficult because one size does not fit all. The way your alpha hero works will be different from mine because they’re different people, with different backgrounds and histories. However, here are some core things about most alpha males that can help:
- Alphas are leaders. Protectors. They’re the ones who will take charge of a situation. They are decisive and take action (see above punishing kiss). Sometimes they will be a dick about it but they are always trying to do what they see as the right thing.
- They won’t be shy about sharing their opinion even if this disagrees with other people’s. And they don’t avoid conflict when they feel passionately about something. However, remember that at heart they’re good guys. They will also be good listeners (and if they’re not, they will know and feel bad about it. At some point).
- They won’t want to talk about their feelings. They just brush that sh*t off.
- If something is wrong, their instinct will be to find out what the problem is and fix it. Especially if it’s to do with the heroine. They might go about it the wrong way but they will be coming from the standpoint of wanting to help her. Even if she doesn’t want them to.
- They will never physically harm the heroine in any way (unless she specifically asks him to) nor will they be needlessly cruel.
My heroes tend to be very strong alphas but that’s the way I like them. I also tend to forgive a hero many things if they’re well motivated.
I guess that’s the key really – you have to write the hero you like. Not everyone will like him like you do but there will always be people who will.
If you’ve got any questions about this or any other points you want to add or want me to go deeper into, leave me a comment. 🙂