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?

M.

 

So, it’s your birthday. You’re another year older and what have you learned? Anything? Well, anything you can, or care, to remember?

It’s Honey’s birthday week. I say week, not because his mother labored for seven days giving him life, but since he’s been mine to deal with, I’m supposed to labor seven days and give him a an illustrious celebration extravaganza to commemorate (in his own mind) this much heralded occasion. Hey, it’s true. This week becomes the week of the free passes and the old, ‘but it’s my birthday’ whine, when I ask him to do something he doesn’t like to do.

*shrug* Over the years I learned to live with it. It’s not so hard. I just pretend he’s an obnoxious house guest who overeats, watches too much television, and doesn’t pitch in to help when help is needed. So, there I am last night, ignoring the foreign interloper (because I know if I even look in his general direction he’ll ask me to get him something else to ease his comfort. Sheesh!) when he calls me back into the room and says:

“With age comes wisdom. I’ve been paying attention to your writing stuff.”

I cringe, thinking that maybe one of the kids showed him on the sly, how to turn on the computer, and now I’m screwed because he’s read this blog. “Really?”

“Yeah. I know you don’t think I pay attention to what you do with words, but I do.”

“Well, that’s good.” I lied. Who knew he was paying attention? I had best be more careful! ;)

He looked over at me and smiled. The kind of smile that instantly reminded me why I fell in love with him. “Yes, and by paying attention, I’ve learned that one single word can make all the difference in the meaning of what a person has to say.”

“Do tell.” Okay, I had to admit, I was curious. This was either going to be really good or REALLY, really, bad.

His eyes were twinkling. “Well, take this movie for example.” He hikes his thumb over his shoulder and indicates. “I could say I’m watching Anaconda, or I could add one little word and say I’m watching MY anaconda and it would mean something completely different, right?”

Yup, it was BAD. And, um, if this was all the wisdom that he’s gained with his increasing age, I figure my blog will remain a well-kept secret from him for the next quarter century or so – easy! :)

Riley

Is it possible to drive with an alpha male? I don’t think so. Oh, you can be driven by – I’ll even go one step further and say driven CRAZY by – an alpha male, but driving with one? Nope. Because it’s like you’re not even in the car.

Example:

Here’s me: “Hey, I think you just passed the exit we were supposed to get off at.”

The Boy: “No I didn’t.”

Me thinking. Wow, not only is the GPS wrong, but the map I’ve just double checked, is too. “Are you sure?”

“Positive.”

Five minutes goes by.
(Imagine nails being dragged down a chalkboard here, for no other reason than I really hate to waste time driving in heavy traffic. Finger nails get to the bottom of the chalkboard and do a u-ie back to the top. They get to the top and do another u-ie and half way down I’ve had it. I can’t take it anymore!)

“Okay, this is silly. We’re going the wrong way! You need to turn around.”

“Will you relax.”

I can’t relax! Doesn’t he know? The nails on the chalkboard screech louder in my mind. Soon the people in the cars around us look like they’re mocking me with their superior looking attitudes because I’m sure they know where they’re going. In a moment I’m going to have a complete melt–

Suddenly The Boy veers off at the next exit and I’m speechless. The huge retailer is there, right where it shouldn’t be! How did he freaking know this?

“Seriously?”

“Seriously.” He nods, but doesn’t look at me. He’s smiling though, which should really bug me, but it didn’t until he adds, “See? No need to worry. Just sit there and look beautiful.”

Seriously? Oh, I sat there. I sat there and mentally revised the small list I’d previously tailored for my purchases – so that I wouldn’t inconvenience him, as he only had one item to get. And you know? I thought the dismayed expression on his face when I told him I’d be an hour instead of the fifteen minutes I’d promised, was priceless. But then, when he complained about having to hang around because this was in the middle of no where, so where could he go – after he bought his one item? I pointed to a near-by bench and smiled.

“ No need to worry. Just sit there and look handsome.”

Now, that look on his stunned face? That look was the priceless one!

M. :)

When I deem something creative – you gotta know that it is. After all, I’m the one that will bring home a lampshade and install it upside down on one of our lamps. I drove Honey crazy one summer because I wanted a bird-feeder fountain and you know? No one sold them, so I was determined to build one myself. But, um, there was a good reason no one made them,’ nuff said on that expensive debacle. Anyway, getting back to my point.

Honey has lived with me long enough to know that, yes, I may have the occasional hair-brained scheme that’s a bust, but usually my wacky re-invention of an old convention, works. Oh, I might have to fight tooth and nail to get him to tweak it for me. Like the time I brought home a four and a half foot antique wood carved candle stick and told him I wanted it for a lamp base. He took one look at it and said: “Have you been drinking? You actually think I have a drill-bit long enough to channel out the center of this for the electric?” At which I did my patented shrug. What did I care about drill-bits. All I wanted was a lamp. When I said as much to him, he did the long drawn breath through his nose and took the piece in question, out to the garage. There it sat until I complained loud enough for him to have a good look at. When he did, he shook his head. “You are the luckiest little…I drilled down half inch and wouldn’t you know it? There’s a metal bar right through the center.”

I didn’t want to rain on his parade or anything, but in truth, he was the lucky one, because I wasn’t the one who was going to have to come up with an alternate plan if there was no hollowed out center to be found. ;) I kept that little fact to myself. Some things are better left unsaid, you know? Anyway, we’ve lived comfortably all these years with me being the creative one. Which brings me to the crux of the matter today.

This morning when I reached for the soap to wash my face I noticed something. The soap dish in my master bath was different. Yes, very different… but familiar too. Where had I seen this…? I slammed off the tap and stood straight up when it came to me.

“Hey, did you change my soap dish for a reason?” I called out.

Honey sounds pleased with himself. “Yep, you like it? I’ve been waiting for you to notice.”

I pluck the soap out of it and pick up the dish. Sauntering out of the bathroom I walk over to him. “Yes, I do like it and you do too.”

He frowns. “I know.” When I do nothing, but hold it up in front of him, his frown deepens. “What?”

“Not that it matters but, you usually like this when it’s on the table at Thanksgiving.”

“Thanksgiving?”

“Yeah,” I turn it around. “Did you miss the stylized turkey as a handle? This is my Thanksgiving Dinner butter dish!”

His lips form a large ‘O’ and then he gets all defensive. “How was I supposed to know that’s what it was. It looked great as a soap dish.”

“Hmm… well, aside from the fact that I don’t keep bathroom accessories in my china cabinet and um, a turkey isn’t a popular bathroom motif, I can see where you might have made that mistake.”

He walks off shaking his head and I’m left thinking, that either he’s far more creative than I’ve given him credit for or my taste in serving dishes sucks the bag.

Riley

How old is OLD? I’ve always thought that one’s answer depends on what year in your respective lifetime you answer this question. I mean, when you’re twelve, twenty is old and when you’re in your twenties, thirty-five is old. Hell, now that I’m a smidgen older than thirty-five, fifty is looking pretty darn spry. :)

Anyway, this universal concept seems to be lost on The Boy. Without blinking an eye he can watch something on television or read (and repeat) -> extra credit here for having to go out of his way to freak the in-laws out, when he talks about age, healthcare and the elderly.

For instance. Last night while we’re all having dinner and sharing our doings for the day – a small segment came on the news about an elderly man looking for a cutting edge medical miracle to cure him. He was 76. When The Boy hears this, he says to no one in particular: “76? Are you kidding me? How much longer does the guy want to live?”

The previously boisterous room goes silent and at least two pair of unblinking eyes – stare at him. The rest of the eyes in the room are trained on me. No doubt waiting to see how long it will take me to brain him! *shaking head here* Because The Boy continues down this path toward a major domestic dispute. Yep, he even looks over at me and nods with conviction. “Don’t worry, when I’m that old and I get sick – you have my permission to poison me. Humans should be born with a self-destruct button that ignites at 80 – tops.”

I’m speechless. Permission to poison him when he’s old and sick? Hmm… I’m thinking, why wait? Especially when Madge’s jaw is swimming in her mashed potatoes. Unbelievable! Here he is talking about blowing up at 80 – when his in-laws (both of whom are 84) are in the room. This is very comfortable – let me tell you.

So, I did the only thing any self-respecting, pissed off wife, would do. I told him not to worry. When he was 76 (he’s older than I am) we’d take a one way flight to Alaska – once there we’d stop at the hardware store and buy a pickaxe. Then we’d find a nice chunk of ice near the sea and sever a little island for ourselves to float away on.

He thinks this is a terrific idea. The 84 year-olds are happily distracted by my story, but our adult child, who was also in the room? Not so amused. She leans over and says, “Don’t say that mom. I don’t want to think about you and daddy dying.”

I buttered a piece of bread and handed it to her as I casually shrugged, “Who said anything about me dying? I’d be the one holding the pickaxe.”

Riley :)

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