Song of the Day: Pull Me Under by Dream Theater
So what makes a male character Alpha? What makes the heroes we love to read about larger than life, someone to fantasize whisking us away? What makes the villains we love to hate someone we want to save?
I am Alpha. Hear me roar.
It’s not just about looking hot. Sure, windswept hair, rugged jaw line, rock-hard muscles, piercing eyes, make us girls drool and giggle. Physical descriptions are certainly very important. Let’s face it, a Pillsbury dough boy with more hair on his back than his head who refers to his protruding gut his “shed” for his “tools” does not evoke dreamy images. Nor does the lanky, beady-eyed, pasty-skinned fellow with the nasal drip. Guys like these just are not sexy – unless you’re into that sort of thing.
But, alas, there is so much more to an Alpha male than a pretty face. No really, there is.
Like what makes him tick.
There is the man who is the tortured soul or the man seeking redemption. How about the man who has nothing to lose? Let’s not forget the man who has been once bitten and is now twice shy. Vengeance, honor, love, hate, greed, lust, these can all be a driving force behind our Alpha. The reason for who he is, his goals and motivations, are boundless in a writer’s imagination. That in itself can be the foundation for any hero to be Alpha.
Again, there is more to our Alpha.
His journey and his growth with his heroine are a given. That is a basic element of any romance. It’s imperative that our Alpha has a weakness. He is after all, human. Mix in the frustration, distrust, arrogance, confidence, danger — Stay with me here. I’m still referring to the Alpha. — or whatever obstacle he must overcome or change to be with his heroine and we’ve added another layer to this already complex man.
Still, there is more.
In my opinion, his mannerisms are critical. Those little nuances that are unique to him that makes the reader take notice and say “oh yeah”.
Savvy? Oh yeah!
Take pirates for example. I enjoy making the pirates I write about Alpha. And by the giggles from one of my writing friends (and she knows who she is) every time my hero, Blade, is mentioned, I guess I’m doing a fair job.
Pirates historically are vile humans. Pillaging, plundering, torturing, murdering are not heroic traits. Yet, look at Errol Flynn’s Captain Blood or Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow. They are mega Alpha heroes but still pirates. Circumstance forced Captain Blood to piracy. Jack Sparrow was born into it. Either way, these pirates have us swooning. Yummy good looks and raison d’être, a foundation and building blocks are there.
Die, you scurvy dogs!
Now think about Jack Sparrow standing proud on the yardarm of the Black Pearl with that ever slight grin on his face. Or the crazed enthusiasm in Blood’s eyes as he orders an attack. Ooh –manly.
Subtle mannerisms carefully placed throughout the tale grips the reader, not letting them forget who’s the man. Reaching up with both hands and grabbing the door frame, he fills the space with his relaxed form. He mindlessly sharpens his gully knife and checks it’s sharpness on the back of his arm. His strides are long and meaningful. He takes a slap, or two, without flinching. Though he’s wound tight, his hand rests casually on the hilt of his cutlass hanging low on his waist. He braces a hand on the wall behind the heroine’s head, pinning her with a lusty stare before pushing off and leaving her still waiting for his kiss. (Tease.)
Internal thoughts are important, too.
They sailed close enough to see clearly through billows of smoke the silhouettes of the battling ships. He almost prayed for a stray shot to splinter his ship just so he could join in the fight. Aw, hell. Why wait? It’d been awhile since the lads had seen any real action.
And dialogue, especially between the heroine, can clinch his Alpha status.
He scanned her dusty clothing and with his heated expression she swore he could see right through her dress. “See to it that you make yourself presentable to me before I come to your cabin.”
“Perhaps you should do the same for me.” Though, she imagined, if the circumstances were different, she wouldn’t even mind if he were covered in fish scales.
Could you help me with my back?
“Perhaps I shall.” He circled around her. “But not because I find it necessary. Nor would you, I think.” He leaned over her shoulder and let the last of his words drip into her ear.
Makes the testosterone palpable, doesn’t it?
My next few blogs will focus on various Alpha males. Cowboys, detectives, warriors, creatures that go bump in the night; I’ll highlight what make these guys Alpha. You can bet I’ll have some juicy eye candy to make my point. I may also post about Alpha females and Alpha villains, too. Won’t that be fun?