Monday, August 01, 2011

How to Bake an Alpha Male (without ending up with Jerk a la Mode!)

It's been a rough week here in Louisaland. Some bigwig from the regional office is due to visit our store tomorrow and as a result every Wal down in our little Walville has been busier than a three-legged cat in a litter box. (I do love that one, Heather. Thanks!) To top it off I have to be at work tomorrow at the UNGODLY hour of FIVE AM !! I don't think my heart even starts beating until after six. I am NOT a morning person.

Suffice it to to say, my week has been nothing, but one long reminder of the reasons I really want to make writing historical romance my career. The only way you will catch me up at FIVE AM once that happens is if the words are falling so furiously from my fingertips I forget what time it is!

And then to top it all off, someone read a chapter of my much revised, driving me to drink, which I don't, but if I did, I'd be the aunt you don't want to invite to the wedding because she propositions all the groomsmen, dances on the table and then gets sick in the ferns and has to sleep it off in the choir robe closet by now AND this person, who read my chapter, had the audacity to say .... MY HERO IS A WIMP !!

Actually she said he talks too much and when he does he talks like a girl, but that says WIMP in my book! Oh the humanity. Actually, if he's a wimp it is probably - Oh the husissity, but you get the picture.

While I 'm not convinced I've neutered the poor guy beyond all hope, I have been cruising the net and writers' sites in particular for any and all tips, hints and articles on how to write an ALPHA MALE.

I'm rereading some of my favorite historical romances in search of just the right ingredients for the perfect specimen of the species.

Dangerous to Love by Rexanne Becnel - Ivan Thornton, the Gypsy Earl, makes me want to slap him sometimes, but only when I'm not wanting to jump his bones.

Wulfric Bedwyn from Mary Balogh's Slightly Series - What is it about this ice cold, arrogant aristocrat that make me want to go ice skating - naked?

Sebastian Ballister from Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase - Gotta' love a guy who sees being shot by the heroine as foreplay.

SO, I pose to you the question WHAT MAKES AN ALPHA .... well ALPHA?

I've come to the conclusion he has to be a complete ass and never utter sentences with more than six words in them, but I DO tend to overreact when someone questions my hero's manhood. But, if that isn't an ALPHA, what is?

Help me make a man out of my hero ! Any suggestions? Tips? The historical romance equivalent of Viagra? Post 'em if you got 'em !

28 comments:

Marie Higgins said...

The one thing I learned is that our heroes aren't supposed to have feelings. (rolls eyes) Yeah, my Inspy publisher told me that. She said my hero 'felt' too much. Go figure... lol She also said they don't go overboard in explaining - even in their internal pov. It's short, sweet, and to the boring point. Is it any wonder romance writers try to make them better? hahahaha

So, the only thing I can suggest is to make him a little more stubborn. Shorter sentences. Don't have his chest clenching all the time when the heroine rejects him - and give him a nonchalant attitude. (shrug) I guess that's what makes them Alpha, right? Oh...and make him do some bad things, too. hahahaha

~Marie~

Samantha Grace said...

Oh, my gosh! I don't agree that Cain is a wimp. And he doesn't talk like a lady. He speaks like an educated man. I think he's great, and I found it very alpha of him to take charge and try to protect the heroine's reputation.

Heather Boyd said...

OMG I love Wulfric. I have NO idea why even now. He's not really cuddly. But that's one of my frequent re-reads, right alongside Devil in Winter.

I've not read your story but I'm thinking he needs to do something sweet for someone without being asked. There are lots of ways to show kindness: refilling glasses, noticing the heroine is squinting from the sun and calling for her parasol, giving up the last Tim Tam (or the Regency equivalent).

Small things melt your heart with an Alpha. That and total hotness! Good luck.

Suzie Grant said...

Men aren't very complicated creatures to tell the truth lol. This coming from the only female in her family, my house is full of males and all my friends are men. Lucky me *rolls eyes.* With that said, men are simplicity at its finest. They don't feel ravenous, they're hungry. Their stomach doesn't ache, they just have to fa** lol. They don't see cerulean blue seas, they see blue. It's so uncomplicated sometimes its complicated. Make sense?

short, simply and to the point. That's a man.

And another thing, don't change anything in your wip until more than two people have mentioned the same thing. My rule of thumb. Because writing is so subjective. Good luck and really think about it before you change anything. Just my two cents.

Louisa Cornell said...

LOL ! Bad things! Got it, Marie!!

I know what you mean. They say Alphas aren't supposed to have feelings until the very end of the book. Sheesh!

Erin Knightley said...

Well, if it makes you feel any better, I once had a contest judge call my hero a Mama's boy!! Indignant doesn't begin to describe how I felt about that one. As for the Alpha thing, I don't have any real advice. Somehow I doubt your hero is a wimp, my dear :)

Louisa Cornell said...

Thank you, Samantha!!! Cain loves you too!!

Anonymous said...

I think the alpha male has changed over the years. In the '80s and early '90s....those alphas were strapping their ladies to a bed and taking advantage of the woman and....well you get the point! Somewhere along the way, (thank the good lord) that evolved. Readers started saying ick....the heroine started developing a backbone. It doesn't make sense to have a grunting, empty-headed, "hot" male with a sophisticated, smart heroine with sass....b/c let's face it....what heroine would settle for that Alpha?
So give the well-muscled hottie some words and make them smart words....it doesn't make him less of a man! It makes him....the perfect man!!!

Louisa Cornell said...

Thanks, Suzie! Good advice about not changing things!

And I love your description of men! Perfect!

Louisa Cornell said...

Thanks, Erin!! Cain loves you too. (There is LOTS of Cain to go around!) And what is wrong with a guy who loves his Mom???

Louisa Cornell said...

Here, here, Anonymous! I am all for a hottie with a way with words !!

Louisa Cornell said...

Oh Heather, I know!! I have no idea why but I LOVED Wulfric in every single one of the Slightly books! There is just something about him! And I love Sebastian St. Vincent in Devil in Winter too. Now there's another Alpha Male I would love to elope to Scotland with!

Giving up the last Tim Tam?? Now THAT is my kind of hero!

Jerrica Knight-Catania said...

Louisa, I agree with Suzie! Don't change anything until at least 2 people point out the same problem. I haven't read your story yet, but I'm sure your hero is NOT a wuss.

Be true to you, your characters and your story!! :)

Carla Swafford said...

He rarely asks questions. He's direct and confident in what he says and does. Fewer words, more impact. He knows what he wants and goes after it or he can do the opposite and feel she can't handle him or better off without him.

Men think so differently from women (as you know) that I remind myself to stay logical and to the point in his POV. Men think in the extremes toward the beating chest type: anger, lust, greed (can be money, but e.g., all the woman's attention), protective, etc.

I love Alpha (on paper) and every man has some of that trait in him. Even when I read books with Betas (nerds) in them, the Alpha always comes out when they're in love.

Olivia Kelly said...

I think what makes an alpha male is his confidence. If you look at the great Alphas- Sebastian(both, Wulfic, almost any Lisa Kleypas or Stephanie Laurens male, they are suprememly self-confident. They may not always be right, and sometimes they can be asses, but they never whine or whimper, even if sometimes they do cry. When they figure out what they want, they go get it and let nothing stand in their way. And usually, at least by the end, they are strong and sheltering, standing as a leader and protector of those weaker or in need. I do love a good alpha male... :)

Diana Layne said...

I've found with men, silence is golden. :)

Ava Stone said...

They're decisive and often a little stubborn. Which makes for great conflict, if the heroine isn't on the same page or if they're at cross purposes.

They may be tortured or tragic, but they don't see themselves that way. Whatever it is that has shaped them into the men they are - they don't lament over the issue. Life is life and they move on (or think they do).

I'm sure that's why I'm such a huge fan of Kleypas' Sebastian. As a reader you just want to hug him and make it all better - and you know deep down beneath all that bravado lies a heart of gold. But the only person whoever really gets to see that is the woman he loves.

Heather said...

The best Alphas have a strong sense of self, and aren't apologetic for their flaws. They display and revel in them. It's why they always get our pulses racing.

Louisa Cornell said...

Another vote for sticking to my guns! Thanks, Jerrica! ALWAYS good advice!

Louisa Cornell said...

Oh I like that, Carla! The alpha always comes out when they're in love!

Louisa Cornell said...

Confidence is good, Olivia! Cain has LOTS of confidence!

Louisa Cornell said...

Ah, Diana goes for the strong silent type. I like that too! The kind of men you have to really look at to figure out. If they look like Gerard Butler or Richard Armitage it is no hardship at all!

Louisa Cornell said...

So no whiners, Ava! Got it! And I have to agree with you about Sebastian! SIGH!

Louisa Cornell said...

No apologies. Good to know, Heather! And I happen to agree.

Lisa Dunick said...

I think that what makes the Alpha work is if the reader knows what really makes him tick. If you think about Sebastian from LoS, he's so completely tortured by his awkward childhood, but he doesn't have a clue. Jessica sees strait through all the bluster and bravado to what the reader was already told on page 1. Same w/ Wulfric--he's strong and decisive w/ his quizzing glass, but the reader understand what it must have been like to be ripped away from the rest of the kids so young to be trained to be a Duke. And we know that all his priggish bull-headedness comes from a true love of his brothers and sisters.
I think that having that soft underbelly--but not necessarily knowing that they have it--makes an Alpha someone a 21st century gal still wants to cuddle up with. All of those should-be-negative traits have to have a very positive reason for being...or else you have a villan.

Louisa Cornell said...

Great insight, Lisa! Wonderful summary of the attraction of the alpha male!

Cari Hislop said...

Some Alpha heroes seem to have the emotional development of a cereal box. I suppose if someone is just churning out soft porn then cardboard might be good enough, but there are a lot of readers (I'm one) who want heroes to be individuals. If the hero loves his Mamma...well, what's wrong with that? Not everyone in the universe has a bad childhood. Why should every hero have to be some wounded beast? It's true the ideal Alpha is a wounded beast with a hidden heart, but who wants to read the same hero in every romance novel they pick up? I think your hero sounds lovely.

I've started a story with a hero who whines and says stupid things he thinks are completely rational. He makes me laugh every time he opens his mouth, but he's not a push over. He's as ready to put up his fists, pull out his pistol or make love to the beautiful willing woman as the nearest Alpha. He reminds me of the cousin side-kick character in The Fall Guy. Why can't the Beta male be the hero?

Louisa Cornell said...

Why indeed, Cari! Thinking outside of the box when it comes to a hero can lead you all sorts of intriguing places. I love the sound of your hero!