Writing Tips

Three Characteristics Your Alpha Male Has To Have

Alpha males are integral in romance novels. They’re the ones who makes your heart beat faster, your toes curl and your stomach flutter with excitement. These heroes can be quite difficult to write, but I’ve managed to pinpoint at least three characteristics your alpha male has to have.

1. Your Alpha has to be attractive

There is no way around this. Your alpha cannot be an Average Joe (even though we all have a soft spot for him). No, he has to be the most devastatingly handsome man you have ever come across. Of course, he can have his flaws. Perhaps he has a scar from his bad boy days (like my latest hero) or a missing limb from serving in the army. But those flaws need to pull the heroine in, and could even be a part of his character. Does she wonder what’s made him a bad boy? Does the loss of his limb speak of his courage?  Your alpha needs to make the heroine – and your reader – weak in the knees. Have fun with it!

2. Your Alpha should be commanding

Your alpha doesn’t have to be a CEO or king to have this characteristic. But he does have to command the attention of your heroine every time they are together. Often writers (including me) show this through arrogance. That’s fine, and perhaps even a little expected, but there has to be something beneath the arrogance. If you can’t make that arrogance appealing, you threaten alienating your reader.

Fortunately, there are other devices that you can use to make your hero commanding. You can make him the strong, but silent type. He can be confident with a sense of humour.  Or you can use his past to make his strength clear in certain situations . Whatever you do to indicate this, make sure he captivates your heroine and your reader.

3. Your Alpha shouldn’t be an asshole

A bit crass, I admit, but true nevertheless. I’ve read way too many books where the hero does deplorable things in the name of being an alpha.  Your reader has likely picked up your book as an escape from their reality. They don’t want to see men treating women poorly in fiction (was that implicit “too” too obvious? 😉 ).  This is especially true in emotional scenes. If your hero is angry, do not make him violent – physically, emotionally OR sexually.  If he’s hurt, keep what he says and how he says it true to his character. Make it propel the story and relationship forward. Use the negative emotions to reveal the hero’s inner conflicts. Otherwise, your reader might just roll their eyes and put your book down.

Do you have any tips for writing an alpha male hero? Is there something  you’d like to see more of in the alpha heroes you read? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter or Facebook!

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