Okay, you can’t have a romance novel without a hero or a love interest. And for any good romance story there has to be a conflict. How the conflict is managed and the foundation for how the characters find their way to one another is in part based on their personalities.

Now, to be honest, I dislike the idea of archetypes. I struggle with them and feel that they tend to pigeonhole characters and prevent them from becoming their unique selves. That being said, I do think it’s quite important to understand what type of hero you have.


Because it’ll help your hero stay consistent to his personality. For example, if he’s an alpha male in the beginning you certainly wouldn’t expect him to let another man take charge of a situation later in the story.

It also provides a balance to your heroine and may be the source of your conflict. For example, if your hero and heroine are both alpha you’ll have a huge struggle for power between them.

Finally, knowing what type of hero you have helps you craft a story that shows his depth and potential for growth and change.

Rather than dive into the dozen or so archetypes for heroes, it’s more helpful to define whether he’s an alpha, beta, or gamma. If you want to further define him (because it is helpful for some romance writers – check out Tami Cowden’s article on the subject. There are many other approaches to archetypes but her post is a great start http://www.tamicowden.com/heroes.htm.)

Is He an Alpha Male?

RomanceUniversity defines the Alpha Male as:

“A hero who is a natural leader, one who doesn’t necessarily know all of the answers, but is wicked smart and confident in his abilities as a problem solver to figure his way out of a tough spot.  He tends not to be superficially emotional.  That doesn’t mean he doesn’t care deeply, it just means he doesn’t spend a lot of time sitting around, talking about his feelings.  He’s single-minded and goal oriented, which can sometimes cause him to come off as brusque and insensitive.  Physically, he’s imposing, tall, strong, athletically fit, and generally hotter and sexier than the average guy.”

Source: http://romanceuniversity.org/2009/11/04/writing-the-alpha-male/

Is He a Beta Man?

“Beta males are intellectual as they prioritize brains before muscle. Beta is not necessarily a follower to Alpha, rather a different kind. He avoids confrontation and risks. He does not have a need to expose himself and keeps in the background. He is diplomatic and conciliatory. He is poetic and sensitive. He appreciates beauty. He has an inner self-esteem, and does not prove his value in materialistic terms. He is “chilled” and a “cool dude”. He is cordial and warm. Beta-males are content with non-traditional gender roles a.k.a does not think “Men have to be Men”. The Beta has a normal or low amount of Testosterone. He is either a loner or groups with few other Beta-male friends and female friends.”

(Source: http://elitedaily.com/life/culture/alpha-beta-males-comp/)

And before you think that a Beta male isn’t sexy think about Jim Halpert on the television show, The Office. They make a fantastic romantic counterpart to a woman that needs to learn a bit about herself and relax a little. Connor O’Dwyer in Nora Robert’s Dark Witch Trilogy is a beta male and he’s divine.

But Wait, There’s More…He Might be a Gamma

“The gamma hero, for me, has always been my favorite. He seems to have the best qualities of both the alpha and the beta hero. He is strong yet not overly arrogant. He leads, but not by cruelty. He may have a bad reputation, but it is undeserved. He can do battle, but never with the heroine. He too may have been tortured in the past, but doesn’t appear the wounded animal, lashing out at those he loves.”

(Source: http://www.likesbooks.com/63.html)

This is actually a fantastic article with viewpoints on archetypes and heroes from the perspective of many different authors. It’s dated, 1998, however much of the information is still relevant and may be helpful as you define your heroes.

What type of heroes do you like to write and read and how do you balance them with your heroine? Next time we’ll take a look at the different types of heroines because every great hero needs someone who can help him become a better man.