Sunday, May 10, 2009

All About Alphas 19 - Questions and Answers

So - to round up the All About Alphas discussion, I want to go back to the questions that have been asked and look at them again in the light of all that has been talked about - and hopefully the answers now mean more and help more.

Jill said:

Oh boy, this is one I need help with I think. What do you do if it is
hard for you to "think" alpha male? It doesn't help that the two men I've
known best in my life (my father and my wonderful husband) are not
traditional alphas. They are more your laid back, take life as it comes sort
of guys, which I love. Great cooks, comfortable around women, pets, and
children, paragons really. At least according to them! ;-)

I just draw a blank when I try and write a guy with an
"alpha" edge.

I would hope that by now we’ve answered this question for you, Jill - but just in case . . .

The point is that the I suspect your image of an ‘alpha male’ needs a bit of rounding out. There is nothing wrong at all with an alpha – any alpha – being “more your laid back, take life as it comes sort of guys, which I love. Great cooks, comfortable around women, pets, and children, paragons really”.

Because I would expect that if you take most of the alpha heroes (and let’s face it, we’ve just about established that all M&B heroes are alphas in one way or another) and put them in the company of their mothers, brothers, sisters, friends – and eventually their wives, everyone would say they were that sort of guy. An alpha doesn’t get where he is by trampling people underfoot, by being tough or even ruthless – though some of them do,. But they also use skill, charm, intelligence. . . Being an alpha doesn’t negate being great cooks – for me that would be an alpha plus attribute – and it’s definitely NOT an alpha characteristic to be uncomfortable around women and children. What about all those ‘secret baby’ books where the hero knows nothing about the child he has fathered but when he finds out, you can be damn sure he’ll be a wonderful father. Sometimes a single dad.

So we’re back to that moment again when the challenge comes into the situation – the conflict. We’re looking at this self same man when the standards, ‘rules’ morals by which he lives his life are challenged. When he believes that something is wrong and he must do something about it. And when he believes that the heroine is somehow involved – which makes her the one woman he feels he should never have anything to do with but at the same time she’s becoming the woman he wants most in all the world.

So he’s having to fight his attraction to her as well as himself together with all the things that go to make up the ‘challenge.’
And of course then there's the love part of the story - because a romance is telling a love story. And love is a great one for knocking people off balance. Not everyone falls in love easily and quickly or recognises it for what is is when it hits them. As I'm writing this, the song Love Changes Everything is on the CD player - with the words:

Off into the world we go,
Planning futures, shaping years.
Love, bursts in, and suddenly
All our wisdom disappears.

Makes fools of everyone:
All the rules we make are broken

And that’s what puts the edge in there. It’s this situation, this woman, this conflict that sharpens that edge. I’m totally convinced that your father and your husband would soon show a less laid back approach if they felt that you/their children/something they believed in totally/their moral standards etc were challenged. Of course there is nothing wrong at all with an alpha hero who meets this challenge with charm and intelligence etc too - but personally I find that when I knock my heroes off balance they tend to react with intensity and steel.

So it seems to me that perhaps it’s the conflict that you have a problem with. Finding a conflict that really matters, that makes a hero stiffen his spine and tighten his jaw is a challenge to the writer too. You need to put yourself in the places of those guys in your life and see what would make them fight to the death emotionally, what would throw them off balance, what would challenge them.

Because it’s in the conflict between the hero and heroine that the story lies. If they meet, all is well, or the hero says ‘Oh, that’s OK, that doesn’t matter . . .’ then there’s going to be no book. You need something that comes between them something that makes the reader worry if this is going to come out right – that’s what keeps them turning the pages.
© Kate Walker 2009

I hope this helps.

1 comment:

Jill said...

Kate, thank you so much. Getting everyone's input on the alpha male was very helpful. I've taken a lot of notes and you have given me a lot to think over. I'm also trying to pay close attention to alpha males in every movie and television show I watch and every book I read.
I think you've hit the nail on the head with conflict.
Thanks again!


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