There's a great column over at Dear Author today by writer Michelle Sagara
. She talks about the trope, the fantasy, of the alpha male hero. And does her best to explain what she thinks the attraction of him is in romantic literature. Done well? He's what a lot of us would love to find, but don't ever expect to come our way.
Hence, fantasy in novels. I'd love to be able to write a romance, but I scarcely know where to begin. My experiences with men are so remote from what I want that I can't even fantasize. But I'm working on it.
Don't ever apologize for your fantasy reading. If it hurts no one and gives you pleasure, then it's yours. Go for it.
Readers give consent to the relationship not because the hero is an asshat, but because the hero is an idealized grown-up. His ego does not require bolstering: he could not care less what other people think of him. What he needs, undiluted, is the heroine.
Let me go one step further. He is not looking for love to define his life and give it meaning. He has a life. He has a life he’s in control of. Men who read romances looking for clues on how to approach women are taking the wrong things out of the reading if they’re focused on out-of-context behaviours. The alpha has confidence in himself. He is not looking at love as a way of bolstering a (non-existent) confidence. He has proven that he can, thank you very much, be strong without a relationship to define him. But…he is aware that something is missing.
If you’re male and reading romance to try to understand what women want, that’s what you should take out of these books: that you need to be confident, and to have a life of your own, interests of your own, direction and motivation of your own; that you can, in fact, take care of yourself and all of the details of life and living, before you look for your life-mate. You cannot expect that these things are donated simply by having a girlfriend/wife, etc. They’re not.As I said: the alpha male is idealized.