Monday, November 8, 2010

What Makes an Alpha Hero?

Hi there. I’m Renee Ryan and my latest release, DANGEROUS ALLIES, is a romantic spy thriller. The hero, Jack, is an American naval officer on loan to the British government. MI6 (the British equivalent of today’s CIA) sends him into Germany to photograph the blueprints of a Nazi secret weapon. The heroine is an exiled Russian princess and also the hero’s contact inside Germany.

Jack is an alpha hero through and through, which isn’t common in Inspirational Romance. So what makes a hero an alpha male? More specifically, what makes an alpha hero appealing?

Here’s my very unscientific list of character traits that make an alpha hero.

1. He has integrity. Seems straightforward, right? Not so much. Male integrity requires a strong sense of right and wrong deep within a man. He has to know who he is at the core. His yes should always mean yes, and his no should always mean no. An alpha male will always do the right thing, even if that means losing something valuable to him. He commits without compromising. Most important of all, he doesn’t intentionally hurt people to get what he wants. Rather, he refuses to make decisions that will have long-reaching, negative consequences to others.

2. He respects others people’s boundaries. Piggy-backing on my definition of integrity, a true alpha male respects others’ boundaries. He doesn’t force himself on others, especially not on women. He doesn’t insist people bend to his will just because it’s “his way or the highway.” He takes people’s word at face value. It’s not his place to read minds. This doesn’t mean there aren’t times when he knows best. But only in extreme moments of danger will he go against another’s wishes, which brings me to number three.

3. He protects those weaker than himself. In the case of protecting his loved ones and those weaker than himself, an alpha does what needs to be done. Immediately. No hesitation, no discussion. In times of danger, all bets are off. When another’s safety is the only factor at play he steps up. In other words, an alpha male protects his own, to the death if necessary. No one is getting past him. Not even the person he is protecting.

4. He likes women. Again, this is another area that seems straightforward but isn’t. An alpha male doesn’t just lust after women. He truly likes them. He enjoys their company. He revels in their differences, the sort of things that make females essentially female. He finds a woman’s femininity fascinating and alluring. He is charmed by her lilting voice and soft skin. He even gets a kick out of her shifting moods (most of the time). He recognizes that a successful man has a good woman walking beside him. And once he commits to that woman he stays committed.

So, there you have it, my list of alpha male characteristics. Thoughts? Additions?


Ramona Richards said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ramona Richards said...

My first thought, Renee, is that I now need a cold drink of water. The second is..."where do I find one?"

Seriously. I think too many writers today confuse "alpha" with "dominant jerk." I appreciate your details and the reminder that a true alpha is more than dominant. His respect and integrity also makes him a gentleman, in the truest sense.

Renee Ryan said...

Hi Romana,

Excellent point. An alpha hero is not a jerk. And, yes, I truly believe many writers confuse this notion. I think it's the same with the concept of "meek." Meek doesn't mean gentle, soft-spoken and pliable. It means strength contained, or under control. Like a stallion with a bit in his mouth.



Karen Kirst said...

Alpha heroes are my favorite! After all, it takes a special lady to conquer his heart. And the fact that he can be tough and determined, yet still protective and sensitive to her needs is a powerful combination!
Thanks for your information!

Merrillee said...

I really enjoyed this book. I tend not to write alpha heroes, but after reading your list, I think the hero I'm writing about now just might fit the description.

Lenora said...

Love me an Alpha male!

Joanne Rock said...

Great post, Renee! And I loooove your heroes. I think I'd add "leader" to the list since people follow him whether he wants them too or not. There's something so competent (and often magnetic) about his character that people can't help but go where he leads. I liked that you included "integrity." That sense of honor may account for some of the magnetism...

Rose said...

i really think this is interesting