Alpha Males
Copyrighted by Pamela Stone

When suggested that I attempt the topic of alpha male and why we love them, I found myself at a bit at a loss.  I love them. I’m told by my critique partners that my heroes are 100% alpha. What I discovered was that even though I’m a writer, I have a difficult time putting into words what really makes a guy alpha.  So I did what any intelligent 21st century person does;   Googled Alpha Male.

In searching site after site, there were obvious recurring themes.

Alpha dog - Leader of the pack - The alpha dog is the dog to which other members of the pack are submissive. Alpha dog is often used in both domesticated breeds of dogs and in wolf societies to express the leadership characteristics of the dog to which all other dogs defer. Wolves do it because physical prowess and strength, amongst other things, shows that the species will essentially continue to live and succeed. (Read this last sentence very carefully. Talk about goal and motivation.)

Alpha dogs exude confidence, maintaining control through body position, facial expression, and the occasional nip or snarl at beta members of the pack. (I laughed out loud at this last comment as I realized that my heroes do on occasion snarl at other males. Whodathunkit?)

Being the most prominent, talented or aggressive person in a group. (Sort of goes along with the alpha dog deal, doesn’t it?)

The alpha male may be a natural leader, exuding confidence (Who doesn’t look up to people who are confident?)

The alpha male has a tendency to respond aggressively to any attempts by others to outshine him.  (My alphas may be more subtle than say a physical fight about this, but they aren’t afraid to fight for their place.)

Some use the term to mean the guy who seems most at ease with women and can essentially marry or date any woman of his choice. In this sense the alpha male is often good-looking, has a great build, and may have a relatively high socioeconomic status. These distinctions may be less noticed in high school settings. Generally the alpha male (or a group of alpha males) are the cutest guys, usually muscle-bound, sometimes the “jocks,” while beta males may be less assured around females and may participate in less “male” activities.  (I dated a few of both types and enjoyed the nuances of each.  But call me crazy, I found the alphas more intriguing.  My father was an alpha.  I’ve been married to one over 30 years and raised one alpha and one alpha/beta.  He’s a strange mixture that one, but in a good way.)

The alpha male in adult society is likely to be confident, attractive, and wealthy. (Works for me, although we’ve done pretty well, can’t say that my alphas have made me wealthy.)

 What Works for Some…
Copyrighted by Pamela Stone

The past year has been a year of change for me.  In addition to the huge experience of selling my first book after many years of writing, my husband and I bought a house outside of Waxahachie Texas and have moved my mom in with us.  Big city to country life.  Large two story home with a small lot to a smaller single story home with almost two acres.  Quiet time – you have to be kidding.  Working in an office to working from home.  We were empty nesters and now we have an 82 year old living with us.  Writing as a hobby to writing for publication.

Not that these changes are bad, but they continue to sap every second of my spare time.  The only writing I’ve managed since Christmas is three chapters and a synopsis for my editor.  I miss writing terribly.  I miss having the time to dedicate to putting the story in my head down on paper.  Yes, you read right. The story is still building and morphing in my mind.  The characters are still getting on with their lives, in spite of me, the author, being MIA.

Kat Baldwin’s talk at the June DARA meeting struck a nerve with me.  A good nerve, if there is such a thing.  No surprise that I’m a pantser.  Not even a sliding scale here.  I’m at the extreme end of pantser.  The surprise was that I now realize why plotting and speakers who make plotting look simple with all their charts and diagrams not only seldom help me, but for the most part they shut me down.  I love my plotter critique partner to death, but when she starts asking me for archetype, essence, internal and external GMC (There are two?  Really? Whoa!), turning points, theme, plot points, or black moment, I freeze like that deer in the headlights.  Whatever creative path my mind was taking runs up against a MAC truck.  Okay, that is a tad bit exaggerated.  I know most of these things somewhere in my sub-conscience, but trying to label and concentrate on them when I’m just trying to get the story down muddies up my thoughts.

I am character driven.  My plotter CP is plot driven.  I know who my characters are, what they want, why, and what’s standing in their way (Pam’s simple GMC).  That’s about it. I know exactly why my characters do what they do; they just don’t always do much.  My plotter CP knows what her characters are going to do, she just isn’t sure why they do it beyond the fact the plot needs them to.  I know my characters intimately before I ever sit down in front of a PC.  Hopefully who they are has given me an idea for the story.  My CP has most of her scenes mapped out, but doesn’t get to know what makes her characters tick sometimes until the book is almost complete.

I’m the girl who sits in front of a movie with a laptop and writes.  I thrive off the input of TV, music, or my family talking. My CP has to have quiet.  She writes linear and I work on whatever scene is playing on that little movie screen in my mind.  We both know what works for us. However, one word of warning. If you write like me, don’t send your latest scene to a plotter critique partner out of order. It is painful.  See questions above.  She wants to know a million things about the scene that I haven’t completely figured out yet.  What is the GMC here? Is this the second or third turning point? So this is her essence?  I thought she was a free spirit?  A free spirit wouldn’t do this. I’m thinking, free spirit?  Did I say she was a free spirit? That MAC truck is barreling straight for me again.

Our third critique partner is a wonderful, talented writer, but also a pantser. Granted she’s a little closer to mid-scale than me, but a pantser.  Now for the real surprise.  This critique group works.  I have learned so much from these women.  I would not be published without either of them.  One person’s weakness is another’s strength.  Looking at a story from a different perspective often uncovers something brilliant that on our own we’d have not seen.  If we were all the same, we’d just sit around and congratulate each other on how brilliant we are (smirk) and never grow and learn.  We challenge each other with our differences.  We encourage our partners to get out of their comfort zones.  And hopefully our stories reflect that.

So learn what works for you. Respect that everyone has their own style.  Embrace the differences and you might be amazed what it does for your stories.