The Alpha Male As Seen Through The Eyes Of The Heroine Who Loves Him
A nice young woman emailed me. At least, I think she was young, if you’re reading this and you’re not – you’re welcome. Now, I don’t have to relay all the details of her note, but it was a nice note and it got me to thinking.
She mentioned that she’s been having trouble with her hero because he’s too nice. She identified a problem she had with her hero’s internal goal. So, once she set out to fix that, she still felt her hero wasn’t as strong as he needed to be. Her question was: If my hero is too nice how can I make him stronger and more alpha?
Well, first let’s define too nice. To me too nice is a wimp. You know, the kind of man who looks down at the floor when any conflict arises. This is different from turning the other cheek. I want to make that clear. Sometimes having your hero restrain himself can be just as effective and sexy if the motivation for him choosing this path is clearly defined. A good example would be when your larger than life, hard-edge hero, who has accomplished past deeds of epic nature, eventually chooses to walk away from your heroine rather than hurt her (when the reader knows he easily could). This can be more effective in highlighting his vulnerability to her better than any ensuing conflict (no matter how brilliantly written). It’s all about proper motivation.
(IMO)? Too nice is a wimp – and too mean is an asshole.
This is what got me wondering. How does one find a good balance? One way is to highlight your hero’s strength through physical actions. You know? Mirrors the soul and all that, but, then it’s the soul that counts, right? Why not go directly to it because physical actions alone are not enough to sustain a character. Even without that soul and those inner core of strongly held beliefs your hero could still be victorious in battle or save those people from the burning building, but would he be worthy of your heroine’s love, just because he did so? Nope. And he has to be worthy of her love or else he’s an asshole and she’s TSTL (too stupid to live) for wanting him.
So, how strong should a romance hero be? There’s no right or wrong answer here, but I think the common thread that links all heroes together is a believability that the reader can fall in with. He has to be likeable no matter what kind of nature he has. I pose the question, how strong should my hero be for my heroine? And who better to answer that, then the heroine herself. After all, I’m expecting the reader to trust her judgement in men so why not ask her? This sometimes gives me deeper insight into his character and takes me to a place I otherwise wouldn’t have explored as deeply. My heroine will though, because she’s invested in making the hero understood no matter how complicated or (I’m not going to say weak – but how about kind?) the hero may seem on the surface when she knows there’s more to it than that. The surface things are what others see in him (his external deeds only) because others are not invested in mining the hero’s emotional territory - he is what he is to them. As opposed to what he is my heroine and what she sees in him - which are all the good things yet to be uncovered through their journey together.
Looking at it this way you may get some distance and clarity when deciding what make this particular hero the man he is.
A good question to ask yourself might be, Is it your hero’s heroic deeds on the battle field that defines him as the man capable of being loved by your heroine? Or is it the scars he bears and the emotional losses he must overcome in order to fully enjoy a connection to the one woman who loves him?