Alpha Male vs. Caveman
A topic requested by @drowningblonde. In every romance novel known to man, well women, and many dramatic novels, the alpha male is the one who arrives in time to save the day and wins the love of the beautiful damsel. However, in many stories, the proclaimed alpha male is the egotistical jerk that reminds one of a caveman, at least until the lead female character shows him the error of his ways through the miracle of love.
So what is an alpha male? To answer that question, you have to understand what an alpha male is and what he isn’t. Beyond the man’s man, the type of man every man wants to be, and women want to marry, how is he defined? There are a lot of definitions out there, textbook and general thought.
To get our comparison going, maybe we should start with the theory of what caveman is:
Not a pretty picture, is it? Actually, many drawn pictures, and even some commercials, show these men as gruff looking, with long, uneven hair hanging down their shoulders and their faces hidden by thick, bushy beards. His idea of romance is giving his woman the carcass of a dead animal to dress and make for dinner.
If you ask the everyday person what an alpha male is, they would likely define the following:
- Succeeds at everything he does
- A natural leader
Sounds a lot like a caveman doesn’t he? Did you notice they share many of the same traits? No, the alpha male doesn’t go around dressed in an animal fur, grunts at the other men he meets, or hits a woman he desires over the head with a club and drags her back to his cave by her hair.
There are many other common attributes of an alpha male:
- Athletically fit
These are some attributes that help define the alpha male, which may come as a surprise:
- Works hard
While every man wants to be the alpha male, it is surprising how many don’t understand the total definition and instead, they come across as a caveman. So what has this to do with your writing? It’s about going back to the definition and the fact that most people don’t really know it. While writing, remember all of the attributes of an alpha male, and that he shouldn’t behave like a caveman. He may be handsome, strong and every woman wants to marry him, but he doesn’t need to constantly belittle everyone around him or lead the way by running people over. While the alpha male is a very strong character, that doesn’t make him a jerk either. Which is really the definition of an anti-hero, an entirely different topic.
The same can be said of female characters. All too often, they tend to go one of two directions, alpha or waiting for the alpha to rescue them. You need to find balance in your characters, both male and female.
Maybe do something different next time. Instead of always making your lead character an alpha male, try for an ordinary man who happens to find himself in an extraordinary situation. Let your imagination run wild and see where it takes you. Nice guys don’t always finish last.
Great stories are sometimes about ordinary people too.
Until next time…