I wasn't too sure what to post for my Day 3. But I've decided to sing the praises of the beta (or not so alpha) male. Not that I don't like alpha males :), but I sometimes feel beta (or not so alpha) males are overlooked or dismissed as wimps. Maybe that's why there are fewer of them about. So this is a little positive reinforcement for all the great beta (onsa) males out there.
I think it's very easy to bandy terms like alpha and beta about without being completely clear what I mean and they are a generalization, after all the most interesting heroes have alpha and beta aspects. But for the purposes of this post, and for anyone who's confused, here's a Stargate analogy. Col. Jack O'Neil is alpha, Dr. Daniel Jackson is beta. (Back to Daniel Jackson at the end of this post.)
I think my first beta male was Yank Yankowski from Hot Shot by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. The quietly spoken nerd who still ends up with a girl. That was a long time ago, and I still have a soft spot for the geeky hero who wins through in the end.
But the beta hero doesn't have to be a nerd. Beta doesn't really mean wimp. A beta could have been an alpha in the past or have the potential to be an alpha in the future. And maybe that's why I find them so intriguing to read about. With an alpha male you know what you're getting whether they're strong and silent or angry and in your face. They may have a deeply hidden secret shame that only the heroine can release them from, but so have nine out of ten other alpha heroes.
The beta hero can arise through strange circumstances, in the book Body Electric by Susan Squires the 'hero' is an artificial intelligence downloaded into a brain dead hospital patient. Kind of ironic as the creator of the AI assumed her creation was female. But as the hero learns what it is to be human and asserts his independence he becomes more than the sum of his parts. He does things that maybe if he were an alpha male he wouldn't be allowed to get away with. In a way he has the luxury of being able to make those kind of 'mistakes'.
My most recent beta hero was Josiah from the book Dagger-Star by Elizabeth Vaughn. Boy were the amazon reviewers up in arms over him. I liked the role reversal of the hero and heroine's characters, that she was more in charge and he was slightly more passive. But he wasn't a wimp. He was the Lord of a land which had been annihilated during a battle. The situation may have tested him but he wasn't completely broken. Rather than go and fight a futile battle he couldn't win, he stays and tries to bring life back to his ravaged land. When called to aid the struggle he does but on his own terms.
Maybe the reason there are fewer beta heroes, is that they are harder to write and be believable? Anyone else out there have a favourite beta hero or am I in a minority.
And just before I go, here's a little clip to show beta heroes can kick ass just as good as the alpha hero does (well maybe not quite as good, but he gets the job done in the end).