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Cathy C
08-25-2006, 07:55 PM
Anna Genoese has a TERRIFIC subject on her blog (http://alg.livejournal.com/97623.html)today, and since it ties in to recent threads about "Do you fall in love with your hero" and "What is an Alpha hero?" I thought I'd bring it over here to get your views. Read the entry (and the comments, if you're feeling up to the challenge) and post back here. What do you think? Agree, disagree, or somewhere in between?

Stacia Kane
08-25-2006, 08:52 PM
Somewhere in between, I think. Personally, I'm a fan of those old-school romances (although without the "little girl sitting on his knee" thing, cuz that's just yuck). I like a little slapping and yelling--used veryjudiciously, of course.

However, I also like to know why these people are falling in love to begin with. If that part is over before the story starts, it's not fun. I tend to much prefer romances where the H/h just meet in the beginning simply because I like a few scenes where they're getting to know and like each other. All the conflict and excitement in the world can't make up for the lack of actual similiarities and differences-real interest and attraction--between the main characters.

Shiraz
08-25-2006, 08:53 PM
Well! I guess that sheds some light on why my ms hasn't been published yet!!

I've never really been a big fan of those kinds of romance novels, and I imagine that's why my characters are nothing like them. They're much more real and complex.

But, since I'm not published, who am I to say that's not the way to go because it obviously sells.

Standards . . . to have them or not to have them. Hmmm.... :Shrug:

Susan Gable
08-25-2006, 10:33 PM
I agree with Anna. I simply cannot tolerate those kinds of heroes. There's alpha, meaning strong, leader, more of your action guy, and then there's what I call the arrogant alphas. Blech, pooie, ick. I don't like those guys. I don't like the "slap, slap" stories, or stories where the hero is mean to the heroine. (Though, those heroes DO make me want to slap them. <G>)

Fighting does not equal conflict. And how can any woman turn around and love a guy who's been nothing but mean and horrible to her? I have no respect for a guy like that, and no respect for a woman like that, either.

My heroes are mostly beta guys. That's what I live with. :) I've had some heroes who were slightly more towards the alpha side of continuum. And maybe that's how we need to look at it. A scale. Arrogant Alpha is at one end, Weenie Beta <G> (let's face it, nobody loves a Weenie Beta, either. <G>) at the other, and we need to plot our heroes somewhere in the middle there. :)

Susan G.

Cathy C
08-25-2006, 10:38 PM
So, what makes an Alpha Hero "arrogant?" I actually just got picked for a panel at RWA in Dallas and one of the topics offered for the panel was about avoiding arrogant Alphas. I have my own ideas, of course . . . but what about the rest of you? What elements of personality turn a "strong leader" into an "arrogant a$$hole?"

sunandshadow
08-25-2006, 10:39 PM
I've never really been a big fan of those kinds of romance novels, and I imagine that's why my characters are nothing like them. They're much more real and complex.

It can be tough to make real and complex come across as anything other than tepid and inconsistent though.

Personally I like strongly archetypal characters with well defined personalities and psychology. I love characters who are verbally mean as a defence because they are used to being ill-treated and want to keep distant from other people so as not to make themselves vulnerable. (I also love shy awkward characters who are afraid of rejection and cheerfully submissive characters who are puppydog eager to please everyone.) But I do NOT like characters who are verbally mean because they are callous or sadistic or dislike the other character. I will not tolerate a character who is such an egotist that they sincerely believe they have the right to slap or order the other character around, OR a character who cooperated with being slapped or ordered around. But if two characters are equals struggling against each other a few accidental bruises are okay.

I do think each character should have some flaw that the other character can compensate for, so they have to act as a team. And I do think each character needs to find something besides physical appearance or magnetism appealing about the other character. But beyond that there are a lot of different interesting types of pairings which are worth writing and reading about. :)

Susan Gable
08-25-2006, 10:52 PM
So, what makes an Alpha Hero "arrogant?" I actually just got picked for a panel at RWA in Dallas and one of the topics offered for the panel was about avoiding arrogant Alphas. I have my own ideas, of course . . . but what about the rest of you? What elements of personality turn a "strong leader" into an "arrogant a$$hole?"

That's a good topic, Cathy. I hope your panel gets picked!

Arrogant alphas belittle people around them. They behave in a manner that makes it seem that everyone else is a lower life form than they are. They're always right.

Jack, from Stargate. Alpha hero. He's strong, calls the shots, is brave, puts himself on the line for his team, etc. But you never see him acting mean to anyone. That doesn't mean he doesn't have the BEST one-line zingers. <G> Cause he does. He's got this sort of sarcastic sense of humor that I love. But he doesn't do it in a hurtful way. That would make him arrogant.

Also, he listens to the other members of his team. He doesn't assume that he's the only one who can come up with a solution. He knows when to keep his mouth shut as well. (i.e. He doesn't tell Sam how to fix the Stargate. That's her specialty and he lets her do it.)

He recognizes his own limitations. (So, conversely, an arrogant alpha doesn't recognize his own limitations or the contributions of others on the team.) He can even JOKE about those limitations. (Self-depreciating humor.) He doesn't think he's perfect and God's gift to the universe or womankind. (Even if he HAS saved the planet so many times I've lost count. <G>)

He champions the weak, he doesn't abuse them.

Okay, that's all I can come up with right now. <G> What do you think? Am I in the ballpark?

Susan G.

Shiraz
08-25-2006, 10:53 PM
It can be tough to make real and complex come across as anything other than tepid and inconsistent though.

Very, very true. Can't argue with that.


Personally I like strongly archetypal characters with well defined personalities and psychology. ... :)

I couldn't agree more. Nothing worse than trying to embrace a dull, two-dimensional main character.

C

Cathy C
08-25-2006, 11:17 PM
A good example, Susan! Let's try an older show--The 'A' Team. Four men, all Alphas in their own right. Not a beta among them, but with VERY different personalities. They had different ways to express themselves . . . and applied them equally to men and women.

Hannibal -- like Jack of SG, he's the "leader" of the group. He lets his people handle their specialties, but you get hints and bits that he's every bit as competent to TAKE OVER their job if it came down to it and one was disabled. He DEMANDS the best from his people and won't coddle them. Sometimes he's closer to Gordon Ramsey of Hell's Kitchen. "It's just a cut. Doesn't even need stitches. Quit whining and get back to work!" Does that make him arrogant (or Gordon, for that matter?)

Face -- The "playboy", but great to have at your side in the clutch. He's warmer and fuzzier than Hannibal and is happy to seduce any woman who comes within a country mile. He'd rather not confront people, but CAN if required. He's INCREDIBLY arrogant, to the extent that he truly BELIEVES people are there for his own personal use. He manipulates them freely--will lie, cheat or conk them on the head and steal for his goal. But if the goal is HONORABLE, does that make a difference? Is a reader willing to go along for the ride . . . let him manipulate, so long as they understand the goal?

Murdock -- The "wild and crazy" one. He's borderline psychotic, but will die for you without hesitation. But he'll also drive you over the edge with smart-a$$ remarks, and a quick temper. If the mood strikes him, he'll just as easily put a person in tears or leave them screaming in pain. Is THAT arrogant?

BA -- The "strong, silent" one. Prone to anger, he's never hesitated in hitting things and people. But he's a softy for the underdog, willing to stop a firefight to pull a puppy from the field. But he yells and screams at people--intending them to be emotionally hurt. How about that?

This is why it can be frustrating to a writer, trying to pick something and make it believable.

So, what say you all? Are ANY of these arrogant? Have you written/would you write a character like one of these?

Susan Gable
08-25-2006, 11:26 PM
So, what say you all? Are ANY of these arrogant? Have you written/would you write a character like one of these?

Gordon's totally arrogant. <G> Okay, so he's not one of the A-team guys, but man, he's incredibly arrogant. <G> (Which is what I kept saying to myself all while I watched Hell's Kitchen.)

Yelling at the guy who cut himself - not arrogant, because it WAS just a little cut, and the guy was acting like a big baby. (Witness Heather's behavior when she burned herself. <G> No baby behvior there. She didn't want to let her team down.)

Calling the people in the kitchen nasty names when he's POed at them - yes, arrogant. (Calling one of the contestants a fat cow, for example. That's over the line.) One thing to yell to motivate them. In that case, it was WHAT he was yelling and why. Yelling to motivate, or to express anger with them, okay. Yelling demeaning remarks just because you CAN, not okay. (There's that abuse of power issue.)

I like all the A-Team guys. although you're right, there's potential for arrogance in all of them. Never mind potential - there IS arrogance in each of them. So, yeah, it's tricky. You can push the arrogance thing if you also make them likable in other areas, and if you MOTIVATE things correctly. (Again, yelling behavior -- if motivated properly, I can buy into it. If it's not motivated properly, I become disenchanted with it.)

Susan G.

sunandshadow
08-25-2006, 11:27 PM
I would say the most basic definition of arrogance is if someone doesn't respect and value other people. The guy can be a leader, but he's arrogant if he thinks it's his god-given right to have followers at all, much les ones who would die for him. A good leader loves and protects his followers and gives orders because they are for the good of the team. Similarly if a man doesn't think women are real people, that's arrogant. A man can be a playboy but he can't use women without regard to their feelings or futures and hurt them or throw them away if he feels like it. Similarly a woman can be the belle of the ball and play hard to get, but she has to like her admirers, not secretly think they're pathetic and disgusting and enjoy breaking their hearts.

Sonarbabe
08-26-2006, 03:42 AM
I have an angle to bring up. My character, Adam Carlton is admittedly arrogant. He's the rich, handsome, successful lawyer who knows he's all of those things. He has flaws though. Despite the arrogance he projects on the outside, he's insecure on the inside. He fears relationships, but when he meets the heroine she's different. Now, would Adam's arrogance be a turn off or would it be acceptable?

Susan Gable
08-26-2006, 04:05 AM
Now, would Adam's arrogance be a turn off or would it be acceptable?

It's all in the execution. <VBG>

Susan G.

kristie911
08-26-2006, 04:58 AM
I think Sonar hit on a good point. An alpha hero still needs to have issues of his own...no one in the world can go through life without an issue. We all have them. So you can write an alpha character, maybe even one that is not-so-nice to other people as long as there is a motivation behind it. Maybe his mom was a crack whore that beat him and never loved him...actually, I could maybe all day but if you write the underlying issue correctly your readers can still like even a mean character. You just have to make sure you engage your readers and give them a reason to like your alpha hero.

Sonarbabe
08-26-2006, 05:10 AM
It's all in the execution. <VBG>

Susan G.

I like to think I pulled him off pretty well. Generally speaking, he's a pretty nice guy, he's just arrogant. Don't get me wrong, there are times in the story where you want to smack him and that's the point. I want my readers to want to smack him. If I get that reaction, then I did my job. <G> I suppose it boils down to the redeeming factor in the character and how it's played out not just on the hero's behalf, but the heroine's as well. If the hero realizes he was a schmuck (as Adam does) and the heroine just goes, "Oh it's all right, honey." That's pretty lame IMHO. I believe the heroine should make the hero work a little to prove that he's a changed man. (Which my heroine does in her own unique way.)

That's my $.02 on the issue for whatever it may mean.

Heather Lewis
08-26-2006, 07:07 PM
What do you think? Agree, disagree, or somewhere in between?

I'd have to say I agree with pretty much everything she wrote (except the Bones and Booth issue -- I haven't seen that show, so have no idea.) :)

MelRandall

Susan Gable
08-27-2006, 04:53 AM
I believe the heroine should make the hero work a little to prove that he's a changed man. (Which my heroine does in her own unique way.)

.

Absolutely. Whichever character had the most growing to do, needs to PROVE that growth. :)

Susan G.

HoosierCowgirl
09-01-2006, 06:46 AM
I live with a self-employed alpha-male and DS1 seems to be one in training (wish me luck!)

DH is a self-starter, task-oriented, capable, articulate and organized. So, he doesn't come across as arrogant (too often) because he's usually one step ahead of everyone else. That shows leadership. Now ... not taking input on plans or talking over the top of everybody is borderline to me. Also, not taking input has led to some major screw-ups in the business ;)

Needless to say we have a lot of sparks flying at times. Especially when he is in "lead, follow or get out of the way" mode.

On the other hand, his idea of showing love is to help out and-or solving problems. So he's always willing to help with my projects even in unfamiliar areas like working with poultry or horses.

That said, I see reflections of him in male characters as I write -- good and bad aspects. I guess it's therapy ;)

Interesting discussion.

Ann

Cathy C
09-01-2006, 06:58 PM
So, he doesn't come across as arrogant (too often) because he's usually one step ahead of everyone else.

Now HERE'S a terrific offshoot of the conversation! When you're writing a hero who is "one step ahead" how do you approach the different POVs? What is one step ahead in the hero's mind (on paper) can some across completely differently than those who are WATCHING. At what point in a plot with a "leader" as the hero do you give the "Ah-ha!" moment to the heroine that changes her mind about the guy--if she thought him arrogant because of his constant jumping ahead on a project?

See, my hubby is this same way. When a person is so much of a leader that he jumps ahead, it can seem to be random actions . . . not even applying to the crisis at hand until later when turning the sprinkler so it wets down the roof prevents the house from burning down (because he happened to notice a smoky smell in the air on the way out the door that morning.)

How about if you're in FIRST person from the heroine? How far into the book should the frustration about feeling clueless last?

HoosierCowgirl
09-02-2006, 07:42 AM
I had in mind a work day or work week, when DH lays out the plans. While I'm writing ;) he's been evaluating the weather, markets, and so on.

I do sometimes feel like I"m out of the loop. I know, big picture-wise, what needs to be done, but DH has planned out all the details. While he's one step ahead I have to make him stop and tell me what's going on, especially if I'm going to be at home fielding phone calls.

However, I sometimes find out the final plans while he's telling it to others. That leads to resentment. (What am I, a mind reader?) That's how it works for us, anyway ;)

But I could picture a situation when a heroine might insist on knowing what's going on. That might lead to some interesting interaction.

I don't know if that answers your question or not, but, it does lead to some tension when I feel out of the loop.

Ann