Alpha males don't like people standing in their way.
I grew up surrounded by alpha males, which is probably why I have such a soft spot for them. I'm a Jersey girl from a large Italian family. Need I say more? Family gatherings with my father's siblings could have been the annual alpha convention. And I'm not talking about just the men either. The females weren't about to take any prisoners either. My father was what I call an alpha-on-steroids. A master storyteller, he was loud and funny and had a temper that sometimes ran hot. Speaking of that temper, it wasn't a shocker for him to pull to the side of the road and kick the crap out of a guy who had flipped him the bird. I can attest to this. I witnessed it.
Back then, it wasn't so fun. Now though, I laugh because the non-alphas of the world would probably have considered my dad a madman. Heck, there were times I thought he was a madman. On the flip side, my father was generous to a fault and would give his enemy his last dollar.
In my own writing, I try to give my alpha characters qualities that off-set their overbearing ways. Most people can accept flaws in characters if there are compelling reasons to like them. Did they jump in front of a bus to save a child? Buy meals for the homeless? It could be something as simple as holding a door open for an elderly woman, but for me, a good alpha has to have a tender side.
As a reader, I love when books have alpha heroes who constantly surprise me. Maybe the author has given the hero a fear of worms or cats. Something incredibly ordinary to humanize him and make him vulnerable. That's the good stuff because I always want to know why they have this fear.
As a writer, I find it makes for great fun to throw a character smack against his biggest fear. Is he afraid of spiders? Why not lock him in a room with a bunch of them and see how he gets out? Afraid of heights? Make him jump out of an airplane. Love. It.
Also important is giving alphas traits that set them apart from each other. I find this is important to avoid "cookie-cutter" characters.
The hero in my upcoming release is a government assassin. Vic is a loner who has no idea how to communicate with women on an intimate level. He is most definitely an alpha, but not a chest-bumpy alpha. Threaten someone he loves though, and he'll get as chest-bumpy as he needs to be. He will stop at nothing to protect his loved ones.
The hero in my September release? He's an alpha-on-steroids. A total control freak. If someone needs rescuing, call Monk and he'll find a way. Fast. He is the "daddy" of the group, a caretaker who can't resist getting into everyone's business. For him, I tried to balance his over-the-top alpha tendencies with his need to always make things right. He may be aggressive, but he wants justice. Always.
Another strong-willed personality I thoroughly enjoyed developing was Michael, the hero in my third release. He's more of an incognito-alpha. He'll get things done, but he likes to use his brain rather than his fists. He won't back away from a fight, but he doesn't necessarily look for one either. I paired him with an alpha female who runs a major daily newspaper and has no use for a man she can push around. Part of the fun with Michael was putting him into situations with Roxann and watching them blow up on him because he assumed he would be in charge.
Chances are I won't stop writing alphas anytime soon. Whether it be the hero or the heroine, I will most likely have alphas somewhere, facing something that terrifies them. Because really, I think it's a whole lot of fun to watch someone conquer something they fear will bring them down.
What about you? How do you feel about alpha heroes/heroines? Do you have a favorite alpha character from a book or movie?
Adrienne's Bio: Adrienne Giordano writes romantic suspense and women's fiction. She is a Jersey girl at heart, but now lives in the Chicago area with her work-a-holic husband, sports obsessed son and Buddy the Wheaton Terrorist (Terrier). She is a co-founder of Romance University blog. Adrienne's books have been finalists in the 2008, 2009 and 2011 Linda Howard Award of Excellence contests. Her debut romantic suspense, Man Law, will be released by Carina Press on July 4, 2011. Her second book, A Just Deception, will be available from Carina Press in September 2011. For more information please visit www.AdrienneGiordano.com.
Here are my Facebook and Twitter links.