Friday, September 6, 2013

Don't turn your Alphas into A$$holes.

There's a disturbing trend as of late in romance and erotica books, of trying to push the envelope with "bad boys," or "dominant Alpha men."

Unfortunately, I've had an inordinately high number of DNF's  (did not finish) books over the past couple of months (no, I'm NOT going to name authors or books) where the hero was supposed to be some Alpha dude, and he actually comes off as an asshole.


Usually, this was because we didn't begin to see any kind of a redeeming feature in the hero until later in the book, if at all. And in many cases, if there was a "redeeming" moment, I missed it completely because I couldn't stand the hero and DNF'd the book.

Authors, you need to remember your readers do NOT know your characters the way YOU know them. YOU might know the hero isn't an asshole, and if they'll just hold on until later in the book, you'll prove it.

Unfortunately, if you wait that long to show the bad boy's snuggle-muffin side, you're really risking losing the reader.

Here's how you handle it: You need to show, either BEFORE the hero meets the heroine, or as soon as possible after (meaning IMMEDIATELY after) the hero's softer side. Whether it's you show him going in to volunteer at a Hospice house, or he rescues a kitten from a drainage ditch, or he does SOMETHING honorable/valiant/squee-worthy/"awww" worthy -- SOMETHING. ANYTHING. Because, believe me, if the heroine comes away from the first meeting thinking he's a douche nozzle, chances are your readers will, too. So you'd best salvage that bad boy's rep ASAP, or you'll be scratching your head over reader comments later saying how they'd like to roast his balls.

The hero MUST have an honorable streak of SOME sort. He MUST have a reason for us to like him. Even Hannibal-freaking-Lecter, A SERIAL KILLER, had people rooting for him!!!!

Let me repeat that. A SERIAL KILLER.



Yes, I'm shouting.

Why do we like Hannibal Lecter, besides Sir Anthony Hopkins' brilliant portrayal of him in the movie? Because he has his own twisted code of honor. If you're not rude to him, chances are, you won't end up on his dinner plate. He plays by a set of rules.

He's a freaking SERIAL KILLER.

And yet we root for him.

Have I drilled this through your head yet?

Here's what you need to ask yourself, and I mean REALLY ask yourself. If you met your hero on the street, and knew NOTHING else about him, and he interacted with you the way he interacts with your heroine, would you like him, or would you call him a fucking piece of smelly toe cheese and tell him to go fuck himself?

Quit whining. Seriously, quit fucking whining about this. I don't CARE what his noble intentions are. If I toss the book thirty seconds after he pulls his Sir Douchey of Cunttown act, it doesn't matter HOW much you redeem him in the last chapter of the book, because I've already chucked it and considered adding you to my "authors to never ever read again" list.

And here's another thing to ponder. If readers see your heroine FALLING for Tom Twatwaffle, they're going to seriously question her intelligence and self-esteem, and they'll want to slap the everlovin' crap out of her. Meaning you'll have a book where readers hate BOTH your hero and heroine.

NOT a recipe for success.

So if you're going to write a bad boy, introduce him FIRST. Make us LIKE him FIRST. Invest us in HIM. Then let him trip into the heroine during their first meeting and give us a REASON to see why he acts like a fucking tool to her. Then you'll have us rooting for HER to see the same goodness in him that we do, and you'll amp up the tension in the process, because we'll be biting our nails hoping they do get their shit together, and that he is able to drop the Dick Dilweed act for her and they'll end up with an HEA we can all love.

Got it? Good.

Now please, please, PEASE stop writing bad-boy-redeemed-in-final-chapter books! Kthxbai!


  1. Sounds a lot like the old 70s 80s bodice rippers. The heros in those were always assholes and were only really redeemed on the last few chapters

  2. @Holly - I know, right? This is NOT a trend that authors should be repeating. EVER. EVERRRRRRR.

  3. Best post ever. This should be required reading for ALL genres, as there is disturbing trend of doucecanoes masquerading as "heroes." I would like to share it on my blog, if you don't mind. Please let me know.

  4. @Michelle - Sure, and thanks! :) Just link it back to me here and attribute and feel free to share any of the posts here.

    1. Will do! Thank you, ma'am!

  5. It's like you read my mind. I've put down several highly recommended books because the "hero" was a piece of...well...shit. I don't understand the allure. One extremely popular book, no titles or spoilers, was so awful that, if I could have reached into my Kindle and set him on fire I would have grabbed a can of gasoline and a match and gone for it. No kidnapping. No raping. No passing her around, and definitely no fucking other women while he's "courting" our heroine.

    I love my alphas, don't get me wrong. I just want them to have a redeemable soul and a heart of gold underneath all that toughness.

  6. @Anon - It sounds like we might have read the same book. LOL

  7. Tymber, I will say it again...I would definitely ask you if I wanted to ever get a straight answer on something. I love that you just lay it all out there and don't sugar coat anything because in the end, you don't do anyone any favors right? I admire that quality in people and you show us that you can do it and still be nice! Great article and I hate the Alphas when they are like that too!

  8. I just finished a Regency last night, where at one point I actually put the book down, turned to my husband and HAD to explain to him about how the author had definitely crossed the line from alpha male to rapist. He looked at me like an idiot, but I felt better after venting.

    After so many wtf moments I had to look it up and see if it was a re-release of an early bodice-ripper, but NOPE it was originally published in JUNE of this year!

    Yes, I finished it, but that was b/c I'm terrible about finishing books even if they are horrible to read.

  9. Tymber, you so read my mind! I recently bought a book, part of a series, where I seriously began to wonder if it was the same author as the previous books as the Alpha male was horrid, Let me call it was it was, abuse... but it was okay because he was a Dom and REALLY she loved it and him (sarcasm intended)... It was so unbelievable. BDSM I get if it follows the SSC principles but not like this book. I really disliked the book and it has made me concerned about future titles from the same author.