Men: Beyond Alpha and Beta

MWelcome back to the blog! For M on the A to Z Blogging Challenge I’ve got Jessica Cale talking about writing men.

Here’s Jessica.

The term “alpha male” gets thrown around a lot when talking about romance. Even writing guides tend to divide men into two categories: alpha males are strong and have few qualms about going after what they want (see trembling heroine), while the beta males are their more emotionally clued-in counterparts. Alpha males are the more traditional romantic heroes, and you still hear people raving about how much they prefer this kind of character.

But why does he have to be either?

Real men rarely fall into either camp. Most men are strong in one way or another, and have redeeming features other than borderline sociopathic confidence and a rockin’ six pack. They might not be pack leaders, but we love them anyway. In fact, if most people met some of these alphas on the street in real life, they’d probably run away.

When writing your male characters, try to take a step back from the Fabios of yesteryear, and challenge yourself to write a real man. Put yourself in his shoes/moccasins/riding boots: he’s going to have a real past, a family, embarrassments, traumas, and ambitions of his own. Add depth to your character by asking yourself questions about him: what does he like to do on the weekends? What’s important to him? What are his views on politics/poverty/religion/the world in general? He should have real weaknesses more significant than “he’s too punctual”.

Don’t be afraid to make him real. He doesn’t have to be an ideal to be loved; some of our best-loved heroes from literature weren’t perfect, but we still see them that way. Mr. Darcy was a bit chilly and awkward, but that doesn’t stop us using his name as a by-word for the perfect man. He wasn’t a traditional alpha, but he was absolutely devastating.

The next time you write a hero, don’t try to write someone you think your readers will love; write a real man and try to show your readers why they should love him.

virtuesladyMark, the hero of my new release, Virtue’s Lady, is very imperfect, but when he appeared in Tyburn for the first time, he stole the show. Sure, he’s strong in more than one sense – he’s a carpenter, so he’s buff as all get out, and he takes care of his community. But he’s not perfect: he’s been to prison a few times, he makes light of everything, he has a pathological hatred of rich girls, and he has some serious past traumas that affect his judgment. He’s not even classically handsome, but like all really attractive men, it’s not his face so much as his presence that makes an impression. He’s not lovable because he’s perfect; Jane loves him because he’s not.

I fell hard for Mark, and I hope you will, too. Thanks for reading!

Jessica Cale


Virtue’s Lady

Author: Jessica Cale

Publisher: Liquid Silver

Release Date: April 13th


From toiling for pennies to bare-knuckle boxing, a lady is prepared for every eventuality.


Lady Jane Ramsey is young, beautiful, and ruined.

After being rescued from her kidnapping by a handsome highwayman, she returns home only to find her marriage prospects drastically reduced. Her father expects her to marry the repulsive Lord Lewes, but Jane has other plans. All she can think about is her highwayman, and she is determined to find him again.

Mark Virtue is trying to go straight. After years of robbing coaches and surviving on his wits, he knows it’s time to hang up his pistol and become the carpenter he was trained to be. He busies himself with finding work for his neighbors and improving his corner of Southwark as he tries to forget the girl who haunts his dreams. As a carpenter struggling to stay in work in the aftermath of The Fire, he knows Jane is unfathomably far beyond his reach, and there’s no use wishing for the impossible.

When Jane turns up in Southwark, Mark is furious. She has no way of understanding just how much danger she has put them in by running away. In spite of his growing feelings for her, he knows that Southwark is no place for a lady. Jane must set aside her lessons to learn a new set of rules if she is to make a life for herself in the crime-ridden slum. She will fight for her freedom and her life if that’s what it takes to prove to Mark—and to herself—that there’s more to her than meets the eye.


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Author Bio

Jessica Cale is a historical romance author and journalist based in North Carolina. Originally from Minnesota, she lived in Wales for several years where she earned a BA in History and an MFA in Creative Writing while climbing castles and photographing mines for history magazines. She kidnapped (“married”) her very own British prince (close enough) and is enjoying her happily ever after with him in a place where no one understands his accent. You can visit her at

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Cindy here again.

Great tips for creating real men. I’ll have to go back to my story and make sure my male characters ring true.

Keep writing.

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