Posted On December 20, 2013 by Print This Post

Building an Alpha by Adrienne Giordano

Welcome back ADRIENNE GIORDANO , one of RU’s founders and a multi-published, USA Today best selling author!

I love a good alpha male. The nice ones. Not the mean ones. The nice ones offer a sense of stability, an assurance that whatever comes at them, they’ll handle it. And if anyone wants to get in their way, they should prepare to get run over.

Alphas don’t like people standing in their way.

I grew up surrounded by alphas, which is probably why I have such a soft spot for them. Family gatherings with my father’s siblings could have been the annual alpha convention. I’m not talking about only the men. The females didn’t take any prisoners either. My father was what I call an alpha-on-steroids. A master storyteller, he was charming and funny and had a temper that could run hot.

The non-alphas of the world would probably have considered my father a madman. There were times I thought he was a madman, but he was also exceedingly generous and would give away his last dollar if it would help someone.

When I’m writing, I try to give my alpha characters qualities that off-set their overbearing ways. Most readers will accept flaws if there are compelling reasons to like the character. Did he jump in front of a bus to save a child? Buy meals for the homeless? It could be something as simple as holding a door open for an elderly woman, but for me, a good alpha has to have a tender side. The reader needs to see beyond the rough exterior and find something—even if it’s a small something—likable about the character.

As a reader, I love when books have alpha heroes who constantly surprise me. Maybe the author has given the hero a fear of worms or cats. Something incredibly ordinary to humanize him and make him vulnerable. That’s the good stuff because I always want to know why he has this fear.

As a writer, I try to figure out what my character’s biggest fear is and throw him (or her) smack against it. Afraid of spiders? Why not lock him in a room with a bunch of them and see how he gets out? Afraid of heights? Make him jump out of an airplane. Love. It. Sometimes, a person’s true character is revealed by how they handle tough situations.

Another important thing to remember when crafting alpha characters is to give them traits that set them apart from each other. I find this is important to avoid “cookie-cutter” characters.
The hero in my romantic suspense, Man Law, is a government assassin. Vic is a loner who has no idea how to communicate with women on an intimate level. He is most definitely an alpha, but not a chest-bumpy alpha. Threaten someone he loves though, and he’ll get as chest-bumpy as he needs to be.


Compare him to the hero in A Just Deception, the third book in my Private Protectors series. Monk is an alpha-on-steroids. If someone needs rescuing, call Monk and he’ll find a way. Fast. He is the “daddy” of the group, a caretaker who can’t resist getting into everyone’s business. For him, I tried to balance his over-the-top alpha tendencies with his need to always make things right. He may be aggressive, but he wants justice. Always.

Another strong-willed personality I enjoyed developing was Michael, the hero in Risking Trust. He’s more of an incognito-alpha. He’ll get things done, but he likes to use his brain rather than his fists. He won’t back away from a fight, but he doesn’t necessarily look for one either. To challenge him, I paired him with an alpha female who has no use for a man she can push around. Part of the fun with Michael was putting him into situations that blew up on him because he assumed he would be in charge. And Roxann didn’t like that.


I won’t stop writing alphas anytime soon. Whether it’s the hero or the heroine, I will most likely have alphas facing something that terrifies them. For me, it’s exciting to watch someone conquer their fears.


What about you? How do you feel about alpha heroes/heroines? Do you have a favorite alpha character from a book or movie?

Author REBECCA ZANETTI joins us on Monday, December 23.



USA Today bestselling author Adrienne Giordano writes romantic suspense and mystery. She is a Jersey girl at heart, but now lives in the Midwest with her workaholic husband, sports obsessed son and Buddy the Wheaten Terrorist (Terrier). She is a co-founder of Romance University blog and Lady Jane’s Salon-Naperville, a reading series dedicated to romantic fiction. For more information on Adrienne’s books, please visit Adrienne can also be found on Facebook at and Twitter at For information on Adrienne’s street team, Dangerous Darlings, go to

Risking Trust
Man Law
A Just Deception

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13 Responses to “Building an Alpha by Adrienne Giordano”

  1. Great post, Adrienne! Another friend of mine says her family get togethers are like alpha conventions, too. It sounds like you have plenty of source material for your heroes!

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | December 20, 2013, 1:20 am
  2. I love the alpha males in your stories. They’re the best! But you know I’m particularly fond of Vic.

    Great blog post, Adrienne.

    Posted by Wendy Byrne | December 20, 2013, 5:48 am
    • Thank you, Wendy! Vic is great fun to write. He’s one of those characters people love or hate. No happy medium. I like to tell people I want to be Vic when I grow up. He’s one of those people who says what’s on his mind even if it’s not the popular thing to do and he’s okay with that. He’s a handful though! LOL.

      Thanks for popping in!

      Posted by Adrienne Giordano | December 20, 2013, 11:38 am
  3. Adrienne –

    I find that the one thing that tends to bring all alphas to their knees is when the people they care about are threatened. Yes, they fight that threat with their alpha-ness, but it’s totally out of fear they’ll lose the thing they can’t bear to lose. Maybe it’s because alphas are only alphas if they’re protecting someone :-).

    And you know how much I adore your alphas. Sure wish I’d had a chance to meet Daddy Giordano ;-).

    Friday hugs,

    Posted by Kelsey Browning | December 20, 2013, 7:50 am
    • Daddy Giordano was something else! He had no problem telling someone not to swear in front of his wife and if they didn’t like it, he’d be happy to take them outside.

      It drove me insane when I was a kid, but I always knew he’d take care of us. I think that’s the allure of the alpha. They make you nuts, but there’s not a lot they’re afraid of. 🙂

      Posted by Adrienne Giordano | December 20, 2013, 11:43 am
  4. Yo Adrienne,

    I’m sure I’m the first person to go all Rocky for you. My family is predominantly male. Plenty of alpha females too. It’s fun to draw characters from real life and a nice tribute too.

    Mary Jo

    Posted by Mary Jo Burke | December 20, 2013, 8:02 am
    • Hi, Mary Jo. It is fun to draw characters from real life. It’s even funnier when people are convinced they are a certain character (even when they’re not!) and keep telling people.

      I’m working on a book now with a female alpha and she’s winding up being a challenge. She’s sort of an incognito alpha!

      Posted by Adrienne Giordano | December 20, 2013, 11:47 am
  5. I adore all types of alpha heroes and especially like the alpha heroines. The ones that bring the alpha heroes to their knees. I love it when they save each other. It always humbles the alpha male when he has to be saved a bit too. I hope you keep on writing them!

    Posted by Amy R | December 20, 2013, 8:30 am
  6. Hi, Amy. I don’t have any plans to stop writing them. They are fun to explore. 🙂

    And, yes, I do love knocking them down a few pegs.

    Posted by Adrienne Giordano | December 20, 2013, 11:48 am
  7. Afternoon Adrienne!

    My family get togethers are more like Keystone Cop Conventions than alpha males..but we have a good time. =) My dad is ultra alpha as well, I always told him he reminded me of the 6 million dollar man…he’d set anything to rights.

    The biggest problem I have with writing a male alpha is showing that tender side so we believe the heroine would fall for him. Sometimes that’s a bit challenging to do!

    Thanks for the great post A!


    Posted by Carrie Spencer | December 20, 2013, 2:58 pm
    • That’s funny about the six-million dollar man. I used to love that show!

      When it comes to the tender side of an alpha, I always like to have them do something really sweet in the very beginning of the book. It could be as simple as shooing a family of ducks off the road or something. Just some gesture that shows he has a loving heart. 🙂

      Posted by Adrienne Giordano | December 20, 2013, 5:22 pm
  8. I love your alpha males! Man Law was the first romance novel I ever read. 🙂

    Posted by Laurie Evans | December 20, 2013, 9:43 pm

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