Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Genre Tuesday - Types of Romantic Men

Today I thought I'd talk about the different types of romantic men that we find in our romance novels. There are 3 types - the Alpha, the Beta, and the Omega. Let's dive in and have some fun. *grin*

The Omega Man
Think of this man as being the opposite of the alpha male. An alpha male must be perceived as the toughest, smartest, strongest, by his peers and those around them. An omega male cares little for the recognization - but he knows he's all those things and then some.

Omega men have no desire to belong to a group or to be a leader of a group. Now, an omega man does need support occasion, but he only really has one or two intimate friends. Omega men tend to shun shallow acquaintances, whereas alpha males thrive on having a large crowd around them.

The Alpha Male
The alpha man is confident in his abilities. He's powerful, assertive, masterful, and superior. (An Omega male is all those qualities, but in a quieter, more subtle way.) The alpha is somewhat ruthless, and perhaps a touch dangerous. The alpha is the quintessential male character in romance writing, but there is a growing trend for omega and beta.

The Beta Male

A beta male is good looking, charming, afable, and a family type of guy. He's got lots of friends, (unlike the omega.) Think of "Gone with the Wind." Ashley Wilkes is a beta male, while Rhett Butler is an alpha male. Betas don't enjoy confrontation, but won't back down from one either. An Alpha would relish a confrontation, an omega would meet the challenge head on with an even temper.

Betas are also known as practical, down to Earth, and have a great sense of humor.

When putting together your romance, keep the following in mind: Is your story set in the past? If so, an alpha or an omega hero might be more appropriate. Is your story a contemporary or inspirational romance? Then a beta hero might have more appeal. Remember, ultimately, the hero has to be a character that your readers can find interesting.

Let's have some fun: Name a book you've written or read, the hero and tell me if he's alpha, beta, or omega.



  1. I wrote Ancient Awakening and the hero is an alpha male. Your post was fun to read.

  2. Thanks for popping in, Barbara. Your title sounds really cool. Alpha males are fun to write.

  3. STEPH--finally! A man I can identify with. I've never heard of an Omega man, but he's my hero, and he's my dh. Probably all my book heroes are Omegas--I never liked the Alpha, and the Beta--I know some Betas and have read about them as heroes. Still the one that appeal to me is the Omega. Whew! I'm so glad I read this! Thank you! Celia

  4. Hey, Steph!

    I'm thinking NOW that I've been wrong in thinking my heroes were alphas. I'm now seeing that they are OMEGAS. Yep, I think each of them is an Omega. I think Charlton Heston did a movie "back in the day" called "The Omega Man." Don't remember what it was about, though.

    Very good post--made me think and re-evaluate! I was thinking of Kaed Turner in Fire Eyes--although he has a lot of peers around him that are friends, too, only Tom and Travis are the "special" ones. Tom was his mentor, and Kaed is Travis's.


  5. Thank you for your post, Steph. This is the first time I've come upon the term "Omega Man" as applied to romance fiction. Is he a square peg, a nonconformist, a counter-culture type?

    As for the alpha man/beta man debate, I'm definitely in the beta man camp. For years I avoided romance fiction because all the heroes were alpha men. I'd estimate least 90% still are.

    If you or anyone reading this goes for such men, I don't want to spoil your fun. You're welcome to them.

    But frankly, I can't stand them. Regardless of what the textbook definition of an alpha male might be, in actual romance fiction these guys come with a whole package of characteristics that make them (to me) unlovable.

    Arrogance, anger, the drive to control others, lack of moral scruples, a tendency if not a compulsion to bully, insatiable lust for wealth and power. Oh yes, and my top three turn-offs in any character: cynicism, sexism, and egotism. And if all this sounds pretty unappealing in fiction, you ought to see what these guys are like in real life!

    Yes, I know why lots of women go for alpha males. They represent a challenge. The romance heroine, acting as a surrogate for the reader, must tame this maverick, save this lost soul, reform this bad boy.

    If a woman can control one of these men, she can do anything---and get rich as well, since the typical alpha-male romance hero is as wealthy as the Sultan of Brunei. Which is great for readers who go for power fantasies.

    But what about those of us who don't? I for one don't have any desire to tame, save, or reform anyone.

    What I'd rather read is about hero who's already lovable, someone I can picture myself interacting with via the heroine. My ideal hero, real or fictional, is high-minded, open-minded, altruistic, and charming.

    Preferably he can and does think creatively in attaining his goals. But he not only thinks outside the box; he lives there.

    The conflict in my kind of romance story comes not from the hero and heroine fighting each other (when they're not making ill-motivated love). It's from their struggle against obstacles, internal and external, that stand in the way of their fulfillment. They aren't forced together by a marriage of convenience or some other hackneyed plot device. They come together because they love each other---and do so in spite of all the complications fate and the author throw at them.

    In short, I go for beta men. And though they're still rare, they can be found if a reader looks for them. And since I can't find enough, what do I do? You guessed it: I create my own.

    Keep up the good work!

  6. Celia, my hero in "The Hungarian," Count Matthia Duma is an omega. I like a good, well written alpha, but I'm very picky about my Betas.


  7. Cheryl, Yes, I'd say Kaed was an omega. He had a few trusted friends. He strong, tough, smart, and he didn't have to brag about it. Kaed was a good hero for the story and I liked him a lot.

    Mary Anne, thanks so much for stopping by. I would say the Omega is more non conformist out of the list you named. He is is own man, but in a quiet, subtler way than the Alpha.

    Omega is a new term for me and I did some research on it after someone mentioned the hero in my latest book, "The Hungarian," Count Matthias Duma was an Omega. Matthias had a few good friends. He didn't seek out attention. He was powerful without bragging about it. He was smart without having to prove it to the world.

    I read somewhere that women liked to read about alpha males and how the female tamed them, but most women in real life are married to beta. I would agree with that for the most part.

    I said I was picky about Beta heroes, and I am. One author who writes a good beta hero is Diane Craver. I enjoy her heroes (Marrying Mallory & Whitney in Charge) because they are everyday guys who are high minded, principaled, and not push overs.

    Great discussion!


  8. Gol, I would have to say most of my hero's are Omega Men. Which suits me fine. I like my men to be strong but not hung up on themselves persay and sometimes I think Alphas tend to be that way.

    I am married to an omega man. Well the name of our business is Omega Avionics so ... LOL

    Someone asked about Omega Man and Charleton Heston, I believe that was the precusor to Legend with Will Smith.

  9. Hi Steph,
    I'm glad you liked the beta men in my DBP books! :) I enjoy writing heroes with the characteristics of beta men - probably because I married one.

    I just read an inspirational romance by Ruth Ann Nordin and Ryan's a beta male! It's a cute story.

    Great post!

  10. I thought mine were Alphas, but I always soften them. Must mean they're Omegas. Glad to hear it!

    Liana Laverentz

  11. Stephanie and everyone: Here are a few open questions. What are the most important differences between beta men and omega men? Aside from the fact that they're not alpha men. Can you think of any well-known examples in real life, film, TV, or literature?

    Also, what do you think about a fictional hero who's BOTH a beta and an omega? I doubt alpha men can be combined with any other type, but the other two might. Or a character might be one type in one phase of the story, and turn into another later on. Just asking . . . .

    BTW, yes, I've seen "The Omega Man". In this 1971 film, Charlton Heston is the sole survivor of a plague that has wiped out everyone else---well, everyone who hasn't turned into a marauding mutant, as he finds out the hard way. All that's a bit inaccurate scientifically. A mutant can't appear until the person or creature exposed to a mutation-creating agent has offspring who manifest the mutation.

    Whatever. I didn't care for the film for more important reasons; I didn't buy the premise, and the story is depressing even for me. And though I'm a big fan of Charlton Heston, this isn't one of the films he should be remembered for. He was more interesting when he was parting the Red Sea, racing a chariot, and fighting those damned dirty apes.

    Interesting discussion we got going. Thanks!

  12. Hey Steph,
    I don't think I've written an Omega man yet. My House of Lies and No Second Chance heroes are alphas as is my upcoming hero in Muddy Waters. In Seeing Red, my hero is a beta. I don't know that I purposely tried to write a beta guy, it just came out that way.

    Good topic and sorry I'm a day late!

  13. What are the most important differences between beta men and omega men?

    Steph: The Beta man has a lot of friends. He has a social network and is well liked.

    The Omega man has only really one or two good friends. He shys away from crowds. He lacks a social network.

    A Beta guy has a great sense of humor. An Omega doesn't have much of a sense of humor. He hasn't quite mastered that yet since he's limited in his social contacts and friends.

    A beta guy is affable. An Omega man is a bit more prickly, but not as prickly as an Alpha.

    I don't think a man could be both beta and alpha because of the difference. Now, I do believe the hero could start out an omega and through the course of the novel become beta, but I think it would be harder for a beta to grow into an omega since they are very social.

    Heston's Omega Man really has nothing to do with the romantic leading man type as I don't think the character fits the Omega qualifications. Just me, mind you.

    Nice to see you pop in. My intent was to write Matthias as an Alpha, but as I got into the story, he just wanted to be an Omega. I have yet to write a Beta hero so the challenge is there for me to do that. As for my husband - I'd call him an Omega man. He doesn't have a wide net of friends. He can't just call up a buddy and say, 'Hey, let's play raquetball' because he doesn't have one. He is affable, but only to those who really know him. Maybe that's where I get my tendencies to write the Omega. *grin*