Alpha, Beta, Gamma Male?
We often call our heroes alpha males. Good looking, tough, aggressive, intelligent, charismatic and natural leaders, our heroes are the envy of other men and desired by women. Those same characteristics can make them a bit rigid and self-centered. How do we begin to redeem them when initially they may have some less than stellar characteristics?
I find I love a hero more if, when he meets the heroine, he can display some of the characteristics I think of as belonging to a beta. The beta doesn’t always need to lead. He listens to others and he is naturally expressive with affection. I don’t want this all the time though. I have a natural aversion to it as a matter of fact. (Don’t stake me, everyone likes something different.) I feel it makes the character more special if he maintains his edge while showing these characteristics with the heroine and fragile people in his care.
I read an article recently which talked about a gamma male. Apparently, the gamma male is a combination of alpha and beta. He is strong, charismatic, yet sensitive to others. Maybe. I read another report that likened a gamma male to an omega male. I don’t think these labels are set in stone, though I like the idea of an alpha – beta combo.
This is on my mind right now as I’m writing a story about a wolf shifter detective who has been hiding that he is an alpha wolf. In his instance alpha male means the most protective not only the most aggressive. What would happen if a man hiding all that protective instinct suddenly met his mate? What would happen if she was being chased by a killer? Could he hide what he truly is for much longer?
What do you think? Are heroes better with a softer side?