Alpha vs Beta

» Posted on Feb 15, 2006 in Blog | 9 comments

Which hero type do you like–an alpha one or a beta one? On one of my loops someone asked this question which prompted me to stop and think about what kind of heroes I write. I love to write and read about an alpha hero: the danger, mystery and “bad boy” persona. But then I love to write and read romantic suspense and an alpha hero fits well in those type of books. He’s right beside the heroine trying to save someone’s life or solve some crime.

But the other side of me loves some of the qualities of a beta hero: the friend, the guy next door, the confidant. So somewhere I heard the term gamma hero for a mix of both the alpha and beta. If there is such a thing, that is probably what I like the best.

That aside, there are some stories that are better with an alpha hero than a beta and the reverse is true, of course. You need to write the hero that fits the plot and your female character. I haven’t written too many stories with a pure beta hero (not true about the alpha hero, however). I seem to infuse a few alpha characteristics into my beta character. I see the beta hero more in the books where I am emphasizing friendship between the hero and heroine.

It’s funny how we like to label certain types of heroes. Notice how we don’t usually do that with the heroine. I personally don’t like to put a label on my heroes. To do that is to put him into a box marked alpha, beta or whatever. I like to think our heroes are complex enough not to fit neatly into a box.

What kind of hero do you like? Alpha? Beta? Gamma? No label–just certain descriptions?


  1. If I had to choose JUST ONE, I’d pick alpha. To read a dangerous, in-charge, Boss kind of guy is fun. (Maybe not to live with. I married gentle, patient, nice fella without the need to rule the world).

    My fave hero is this guy: He’s got some tormenting secret, he’s supercompetent in some field, he’s maybe scarred or disabled in some visible way that will bring sympathy (although emotional scarring will do), but at core he’s got an honorable streak a mile wide and will die to protect those weaker than he is when push comes to shove. He’s just waiting for the one woman who will heal his wound and prove to everyone that he’s really not the obnoxious, dictatorial, recluse/or/wildman everyone thinks he is.

    That’s my fave hero. 😀


  2. I wrote a book I call my alpha female/beta male book. For fun I’ve titled it The Niceman Cometh. It was just beyond fun to write. I’m usually into Alpha males but my beta male loved animals, hated guns, cooked like a dream…as the book moves on, we learn he’s tough when he’s pushed, and the assassin who’s trying to kill the tough as nails lady cop brings out a really alpha side of himself. But he’s still marshmellow soft inside.

  3. I like them all! It’s nice to read a different kind of hero in every book. (I like writing both kinds, too.) I like Sherrilyn Kenyon’s alphas and Judi McCoy’s betas and all the guys in between.

    Basically, I love men. ;o)

  4. I tend to prefer the betas, simply because I feel like you don’t get to see them as much in romance novels (well, okay, and probably also because my own husband is a definite beta). I’m a sucker for a sweet, guy-next-door hero whose appealing qualities tend to sneak up on the heroine when she’s not looking.

  5. I love reading about the tough, rugged Alpha male who is tamed by the heroine. Not sure how true to life that is though. I heard somewhere that we all want to fall in love with an Alpha male, but want to marry a Beta male. There’s something to be said about those guys who are our friends, not that an Alpha male can’t be a friend. Okay, I’m leaving now to go back to writing my Alpha male story. 🙂

  6. I love your comments about what kind of hero you write and read. Personally I’m married to a beta and wouldn’t trade him for the world. I do love to read and write alpha heroes, though.


  7. I’d have to choose the alpha. I love the dark, rugged, handsome, dangerous guy. I love when the heroine is afraid to fall in love with him because of his adventerous spirit and ‘devil-may-care’ attitude.

    That being said, I also love those stories where the hero and heroine have been best friends forever and ‘suddenly’ realize that they’re really in love and can’t live with out each other. I especially like the ones where this realization comes about because the heroine is attracted/dating an alpha male type person and the beta friend becomes jealous.

  8. I like the gamma (if that really exists). The guy who appears to be alpha–has or has had the dangerous job, the gruff exterior–but has a beta center, a vulnerability that he keeps hidden because he thinks something’ wrong with him for it.

    Kinda sounds like my husband, now that I think about it. He’s a firefighter/paramedic (dangerous job) who loves clowning (seriously, he was a clown at our daughter’s school a couple of weeks ago), and who thinks he’s not as smart as others because he has a reading disability.

    I think he’s a genius, btw, because there is no way could I do what he does for a living.

  9. I love the gamma hero. Not overbearing like the alpha, not soft like the beta. I love Gil Grissom on CSI–he’s a great gamma character. Highly skilled, not overbearing, but strong in areas where he needs to be.


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