I’m teaching a worldbuilding master class in Portland, Oregon on August 4, if you’re in the area or want to be! Check out the Willamette Writers Conference here.
This week at the SFF Seven, we’re talking about writing male protagonists and how to avoid creating an “alphahole.” For those not in the know, an alphahole is an ostensibly alpha male who is actually an asshole, or is perceived as an asshole by the reader. This is a more complex issue than it seems on the surface. The alpha male hero is a popular trope, particularly in Romance, but in other genres, too. The alpha male is a leader, bold, confident, a protector. In some ways, he is often the idealized male. Some readers don’t like this trope or have greater sensitivity to certain aspects of the typical characterizations.
I tend not to take this too seriously. Personally, I like my alpha male heroes like I like my fiction: no relationship to reality required.
That said, I don’t really write alpha males very often, largely because my books almost always center the female protagonist and her journey to complete the quest, etc. The classic alpha male hero doesn’t intersect well with that kind of arc. Though I do love to have two strong, determined leaders butt heads and find common ground in love, learning to lead together.
Three traits of a guy like that?
- Enough self-confidence not to be threatened by a competent woman.
- Secure in his masculinity so he doesn’t need to “prove” it to anyone.
- Integrity and compassion that allow him to adhere to his principles and lead with care for his followers.