Raise your hand if you remember the Colin Firth lake scene. Umm-hmm. Or how about the Keira Knightley/Matthew Macfadyen yes, no, yes, no, almost-kiss? Fitzwilliam Darcy has a power that transcends all time, melting our hearts and invoking our devotion—all whilst trussed up in a stiff collar and breeches! Is it any wonder that he’s a prime example of writing the ultimate alpha male character? In fact, I think it’s safe to say he was one of the first book boyfriends.
So why do we love him so? What qualities draw us to Mr. Darcy again and again, no matter which actor plays his part or how many times we reread Pride and Prejudice?
You know that guy, the one with the shoulder-width stance, hands on his hips, and a tendency to lean slightly forward? Maybe he was the high school quarterback, the prom king, the captain of the … whatever! He was the “it” guy, the one all the others wanted to be like.
Well, he was probably an Alpha. And there’s so much more to him than his imposing exterior.
Fearless and confident, iron-willed and organized, the Alpha rarely disappoints. Though not all of the following traits apply to all Alphas, they’re a small playbook to the lion of the archetypes.
With a take-charge attitude and commanding persona, Alphas have no trouble standing out or stealing the spotlight. Their considerable outward skills abound, making it difficult to limit the list, but here are a few traits that particularly exemplify the Alpha.
His confidence and authoritative manner attract people instinctually. They want to follow the Alpha. Even the way he walks and stands can convey his aura of leadership. And with a get-after-it work ethic, he quickly impresses superiors, who readily entrust him with greater responsibilities.
“A place for everything, and everything in its place.” The Alpha doesn’t believe in wasting time. Every moment can be spent making more money or strategically moving toward his goals. He ensures his ability to take on any challenge by always having his equipment at the ready—whether it be an expensive suit or a hammer.
He naturally believes in himself. The Alpha doesn’t need affirmation from anyone. He knows what he’s capable of, so why apologize for it? He works hard to acquire everything he has—material or physical—so, for the most part, it isn’t bragging or posturing, it’s just … confidence!
Need a decision maker? Then the Alpha is your man. It’s part of what makes him such a great leader. He wastes no time in attacking a problem and solves it swiftly and adeptly. Often, his choices make no sense on paper—they come directly from a hunch or a gut feeling—but never fear! Somehow they always seem to shake out in the end.
Whether the goal is a deadline or a love interest, the Alpha accepts every challenge with a relentless pursuit. He formulates a plan and executes each element with dogged determination. If unforeseen events should arise, such as a competitor, he’ll do everything in his power to quash the threat and achieve his objective.
Though the Alpha exudes golden-boy qualities, he’s notorious for his weaknesses, as well.
With an Alpha, the drive to do well can morph into the will to dominate. In which case, the outcome of every challenge presents either a triumphant braggart or a sore loser.
It’s not that this kind of Alpha doesn’t know how to have fun. He does. He just needs to schedule said fun. Remember that time-wasting thing? Yeah, it applies to everything. In fact, just know that the “dinner party” is really a casual business meeting.
Alphas don’t get where they are because they’re warm and fuzzy. For some Alphas, this can be a real issue. For example, when things don’t go as planned … Hulk smash!
Rogue: I don’t. I just despise being told what to do. That’s why I pick a profession that allows me to do pretty much whatever I want, whenever I want. A cop, a bull rider, an independent consultant, a criminal … I don’t like relying on someone else’s decisions–because they’re usually stupid.
Alpha: Leading people is what I do. If for some reason, I have to start at a lower-level position in a company, it isn’t long before I’m the one giving the orders. I have great organizational skills, I’m confident, decisive, and I stand out from the rest. I can’t help it; it’s just who I am.
Intellectual: Weighing the pros and cons, utilizing scientific method and theory, I carefully consider every aspect of any given situation. What are the statistics? Is it feasible? What is the desired outcome? When all of these factors are carefully considered, I’ll present my answer.
Alpha: Experience, a gut feeling, the opinions of my carefully-crafted team … I make decisions based on those things. It may not make sense on paper, but I’m right most of the time. I don’t mess around with useless figures or emotion—hello, that’s what my team is for—instead, I make a decision quickly and move on to the next hurdle.
Adventurer: I’m gone, baby. Rock climbing, wake boarding, hiking, biking, you name it. I need to be outside and active, reenergizing. Do I have to have people with me? No. I like to, but I’m just as happy taking things in and relaxing on my own.
Alpha: I love sports. Mostly team sports. See, back in high school, I took our team to state. Being active and fit is important to me. I need to look my best and be on top of my game at all times. Oh, and I hate losing.
Alphas rarely cry. So don’t make them do it. Sometimes, their drive for efficiency and control consumes everything—including other people’s lives. Sure, his woman loves his protectiveness, but it comes with a price. Yes, he guards her with the fierceness of an attack dog, but sometimes it’s suffocating and chases her away. For example, if she creates something that’s just hers—say, her own successful business—he’ll have a very hard time giving her her space. And not just in the running of the business; he’ll also have to keep himself from interfering when customers treat her badly. Not so easy. She’ll need to stand up for herself when it counts, or she’ll be swallowed up in the sea of his exes. Don’t give up on the Alpha, though. Just give his lady a handy rolling pin for any such hardheaded behavior, and all will be well.
Happy Alpha-ing, my friends! As always, I’d love to hear from you, so leave a comment and tell me who your all-time favorite Alphas are.
I’m also a big time reader–of the bubblegum sort. You know the kind. Books that are pure escapism. The kind of books that throw you on the back of their Harley and take you for a heart-racing ride. The best kind? The ones with characters that knock your sock off!
But my favorite thing? I love to archetype people. Sounds sketchy, I know, but it’s really just a glorified personality test that tells me all kinds of awesome stuff about people. Why do I love it so much? Mostly it fascinates me and I love learning new stuff, but it also helps me teach people all kinds of things.
Want to know how to build amazetastic characters? I can teach you that.
Want to know more about yourself and the people you care about? I can tell you that.
This simple technique can open windows into character creation, effective author platforms, and can even open a window to … you! What’s not to love!?!
– Kathryn Le Veque, USA TODAY and Amazon All-Star Author
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