Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Alpha Male Villains

Ahhh...the quintessential "alpha male" antagonist. Does it get any better than Gaston from Beauty and the Beast? Creating an evil (authentic) villain can be just as challenging as characterizing your main character! At the moment, I am having serious problems with one of the villains in my novel! Agggh! It's easy to make your villain a dick. It's much harder to humanize him so his motivations seem authentic.

So what is an "alpha male" exactly? And why do alpha males make such good bad guys?

Alpha males aren't necessarily "evil" but they do have character traits that often twist them into unsympathetic characters. "Alpha" types are assertive, aggressive, self-absorbed, confident, proactive, and tend to put themselves in leadership roles. These traits can be good (and even necessary) in some situations, but in most interpersonal situations, not so much. True alpha males are rare. They should make up less than 15% of the general population. In the wild, the strongest alpha usually wins the right to mate with the female and pass his genetic line. Likewise, in human settings, the alpha male usually puts himself at the top of the social hierarchy (CEOs, politicians, military generals, etc.)

If you're dealing with an alpha male, he will try to assert his "dominance" over you.  An unwilling main character who refuses to follow his rules can create the perfect conflict scenario. This is why alpha males make excellent antagonists in fiction. However, whenever you're creating a villain (alpha or not) you've got to give him realistic motivations. He can't just be evil for the sake of being evil. 

I love to HATE my villains. A truly convincing bad guy can become my favorite character! If your readers love to hate your villain, they will root for your main character. And often they'll turn the pages just to see how the villain "get's it" in the end. So with that said, who is YOUR favorite fictionary villain? And is he an alpha male?  


Theresa said...

I couldn't agree more! I'm having trouble with my villain at the moment as well, making him someone that my reader will love to hate. I think at the end of my book, in the epilogue, the reader will gain a more in depth understanding of his motives. It's one of my favorite parts of my book, being written in third person, which separates it from the first person POV from my MS. Anyway, good post!

Talhe said...

Favorite villain? Hmm, tough choice. I prefer my bad guys to be more impersonal and menacing then actually... well, personable. If I had to choose a villain, though, it'd have to be a character from an anime called Sword of the Stranger, Lou-Lang. Powerful, menacing, and determined to follow his own path, he epitomizes the term 'badass' for me.

Dating Free Sites said...

nice post) very realistic, but I can disagree a bit. a real villain can hide under the skin of a kind-hearted man, so we have to be careful)

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