Writing Alphas: 3 Surefire Steps to Swoon-worthy Heroes
Today's #WriteTip is a fun one! Rather than dancing around the general topic of fiction writing, I'm going to be very specific. We're talking about heroes today (my favorite) and even better, alpha heroes.
Writing an alpha hero doesn't mean you have to pen a grunting, demanding, playboy. Nor does it mean having a big, buff, toned, brawny male... though there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. I didn't do it on purpose, but I've gained a reputation of writing alphas who are, well... kind. Hard bodied with a soft, gooey center. Some of them are gruff. Others have edges that seem everlasting. Some are meticulously habitual, while others are loose and fun and carefree.
There are attributes I endeavor to weave into all Jessica-Lemmon heroes, and those are the tips I'm here to share with you today.
*As with any rule, half the fun is breaking them on occasion, but if you're trying to nudge your heroes out of their "beta" habits, or you endeavor to make your men sound very different from the heroines in your books, then these ideas may help you do just that.
(1) Lose the maybes.
Alphas are certain. Take this example, well, for example:
Maybe she was thinking about him and maybe she wasn't. She probably thought he was a knuckle-dragging caveman, when in reality, his balls were in a sling of her making. Yes, Anna owned his ass at work, but he was the one who wanted to own her in bed.
...with a couple of tweaks, we can alpha this guy up a teensy bit more...
She was thinking about him. She had to be. He'd been consumed with thoughts of her, so it was only fair. Sure, she saw him as a knuckle-dragging pavement, but what she didn't know was that his balls were in a sling of her making. Anna owned his ass at work--but he was the one who would soon own her in bed.
See the difference? By making our mystery hero (who I now want to write a book about, LOL) certain about what he's thinking, he already stepped deeper into alpha territory.
(2) Delete the question marks.
Here's a simple trick I used when I was writing Bringing Home the Bad Boy. Evan doesn't ask a lot (or any?!) questions in that book. I was determined to write a "bad boy" which was a feat I hadn't attempted. I had just wrapped the Love in the Balance series and a new segue series felt... well, big. Could I do it?! And how do you write a bad boy who was a great dad?
Early on, I decided to lose the question marks when forming Evan's voice. Here's an example of Evan telling Charlie what she's doing next rather than asking:
“I’m heading home,” Charlie said. “Thanks for dinner.”
“No.” He grabbed her hand before she walked off his porch. “You’re having a drink with me.”
Her eyes strayed in the direction of her house with a look that was almost longing. “I don’t know…”
“I do. Haven’t had a chance to talk to you all evening, Ace.”
He took two full steps toward her until he stood so close she had to crane her neck to look up at him. “One drink.”
They had things to talk about. He wasn’t letting her run from him again.
It doesn't mean that your heroine needs to be an obliging doormat, and if he continues giving her what she won't allow herself to have (in this case, alone time with him), then your reader will understand the difference.
(3) Swap emotion for decisions.
Alphas are confident. So confident that they think they have it really, really right while the rest of us readers are face-palming and yelling, "Seriously?!" at our iPads. You can find a perfect example of this in my recent rom-com Eye Candy, featuring Vince's not-so-great plan to bed his best friend, and below, in this sample from The Billionaire Bachelor.
“Okay,” Merina interrupted to take his mind off destroying her second favorite room in the hotel. She wrapped her hands around her mug of steaming tea. “What did you need to see me about?”
“A proposal.” His eyes snapped to hers. “I’m willing to let you and your parents keep your jobs and leave the Van Heusen as bohemian as you like.”
It was everything she wanted to hear. Like a miracle had occurred. Had he grown a conscience? Her eyes narrowed in suspicion. “What’s the catch?”
He smiled, then said two words that made her go temporarily blind in one eye. “Marry me.”
In all the imaginings she’d ever had about a marriage proposal, absolutely zero of them included billionaires she barely knew. A small, slightly hysterical laugh left her lips.
Reese didn’t flinch.
“Did you just say…” She closed her eyes and pushed the rest from her constricted chest. “Marry you?” Surely not. Surely she’d hallucinated that.
She clutched her mug. Voice tight, she asked, “What in the hell are you talking about?”
“My father is retiring soon. The Crane Holdings board of directors isn’t convinced I’ll make a good replacement due to my dating habits.” He stated it clearly and unapologetically, though really, what did he have to apologize for? He was a grown man who could see whomever he wanted. In her opinion, he saw way too many whomevers. A string of silly women who were likely chasing after his wallet. “The shareholders are displeased with the fact that I have a reputation for being…”
“A playboy?” she finished for him.
He curled his lip and corrected with, “Not monogamous.”
“Are you capable of being monogamous?” It was easier to needle him than address the gauntlet resting between them like a huge pink elephant.
“I don’t prefer it.”
Which was no answer at all.
“So this is a bribe.”
“It’s a proposal.” One eyebrow lifted slightly. “In this case, literally.”
Reese has a very solid plan that he's certain will work. After all, his strategies have always worked for him in business. How's this arrangement any different? If that's not a completely alpha trait, I'm not sure what is...
*An important note:
Every writer's heroes are different because every writer's voice is different. If you're still developing your own, don't be afraid to experiment with mimicking someone else's voice to hone your own. No, not plagiarism, but you know what I mean, right? Everyone has a style. I didn't find mine until after I'd written five unpublished books, and even after that first book saw the light of Amazon, I continued (and still do) to form and deepen my voice as well as my rad author-writing skills.