I was thinking about a comment I made recently on one of my favorite blogs: edittorrent . Their posts always force me to think.*sigh*
Now, they weren’t necessarily speaking about the alpha male exclusively, but as I write alpha’s in romances, I tend to focus in on them.
Basically, the discussion was whether you can introduce a character from the beginning of your story and have them be appealing enough to the reader from the get-go, so that the reader will stick with them.
This is a great question because, ideally, our heroes are supposed to transform and grow through their experiences during their story arcs, right? The assumption being, that there has to be room for an undeveloped/unevolved character from the start to grow some, so that in the end, they change in a positive way and earn a HEA. (Parts of this last sentence I shamelessly lifted right off edittorrent’s blog post – thanks Alicia!)
Anyway, there I am, pondering. Because you’ve got to know that this is a perpetual problem for a writer who writes the alpha. Hey, let’s face it, the alpha can be an asshole. But I love them! So, I sat down and went through a few of my stories to see what I put into play – if anything, to protect myself against the reader being turned off by my hero’s less than noble beginnings.
What did I find? A pattern. Almost always there was a counterweight measure that I added to offset my Alpha’s bad behavior that established a thread of understanding (maybe not a logical agreement to the methods per se) but an understanding to the motives. Which is interesting because the methods I invariably chose – opened the door to the unique experiences that my heroes had to go through in order to change. Without the external goal introduced there would be no methods devised and no new, OR, at odds, with his normal state-of-being, experiences presented to challenge him.
But once presented, the motives he chose to use against these challenges almost always, again, directly tied into his internal conflict(s) in someway. So, if and when, it/they failed (or worked, as the case may be), it was an opportunity for him to gain raw insight into a part of himself – good or bad – that he wouldn’t have otherwise seen. (hey, internal conflict is not always a bad thing )
Hmm… so does this mean that you have a better chance keeping the reader on the journey if you identify the main character’s external goal (which might not be noble or nice), but can be tolerated by the reader, because it’s fueled by an important aspect of his internal conflict?