Everyday Heroes….by Nancy Brophy

In my life God always has the last laugh. Just at the point where I think I know where I’m going and how I’m going to get there, I get a curve ball.

I write the alpha hero with a body built by hard work, sweat and determination.  Old enough to have experience life, his choices are based upon his core beliefs. In a nutshell, he’s mid-to-late thirties, attractive, but not a pretty boy and usually he’s the one who thinks he’s in charge.

Apparently I didn’t know enough about this guy because suddenly I’m working with three men who in real life would qualify. Knowing these men as opposed to creating them out of my imagination has given me pause.

I’m not attracted to them. Yeah, they have great bodies and are truly nice men but they are young. When I write this guy I write from the eyes of a young woman. In real life there is an ick factor in age difference and life experiences I can’t overcome.

I’m not sure I’ve ever worked around truly competitive men. These guys all played sports, but that isn’t the determining factor. Over my life I’ve known several men who have played sports some even professionally and yet their drive was nothing in comparison.

I’ve always prided myself on being a hard worker, but just being around these men has upped my game. Who knew this would happen at a time when many of friends are more involved with retirement than starting a new career? There is never a point in your life when you stop discovering who you are.

One of the men I know better than the others. As I watch him make choices in his life I am surprised and impressed by his decisions. The man is a single father who takes his 50% custody seriously – so seriously that when he wins a trip through work, he chooses his eleven-year-old daughter over the girlfriend du jour.

Recently the child’s mother moved to another town about forty-five minutes away. She didn’t do this out of spite, but rather love. My friend celebrated her happiness. How many of us have wished for our ex’s joy? I’m not sure that I’m that nice. With her move, he decided that in order for his daughter to be most stable he also needed to follow her to the new city in another state.

For him this is a major decision. This man hates change. So selling his house and relocating is a sacrifice that definitely takes him out of his comfort zone. Many of us would chose a different decision and not be wrong. For him good parenting is his number one priority – even above his need to succeed.

But here’s the other thing I have discovered, I suspect he would be a better father than a husband. While he’d be faithful and support the family it would take a special woman to deal with his rather rigid life-style.

Now as writers I know you are thinking, “Great. You have a role model, write him.”

But I can’t. In order for me to write a man falling in love, I would have to think about the physical aspects of that relationship and I can’t do it. See the previously mentioned ick factor.

But there is a lesson to be learned here. I’m just not sure what it is. But I can see how future stories may change and be stronger as a result. And in the background I can hear God chuckling away.

Life is never staid or finished. It is always changing and reshaping itself and us with it. The ability to be a hero is in everyone, but not everyone looks the part.

Have you encountered your stories’ characters in your life? Tell me about it.


Posted on September 23, 2012, in General and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I LOVE you post. And I love the good guys!


  2. Dale Kirkwood. I have a WIP with characters developed out of years working with the people like my characters.
    Very well said, Nancy.


  3. If it’s the guy I’m thinking about… we will get you past the issue to make him a hero in one of your stories 🙂


  4. I think you have learned about the new generation of alpha/beta men. Both of my sons fit this description. One served in the Marines in Iraq, and when he returned went to lawschool. He is now an attorney in a large D.C. lawfirm. The other began his college career wanting to be in sports or sports medicine, but then found a calling in criminal justice. He is a federal police officer in D.C. Both love children and family and both would give their life to protect their own families and the families of others. Both are idealists and are very sure of themselves. Both have pretty rigid ideas about right and wrong, their role in the world, and how things should be arranged in their life. In order to be an alpha male, I believe that confidence has to be overstated or they could never do the things alpha males do. Yet, in today’s world many young men have been brought up to respect women, to equally take on household chores, and to be able to have real conversations and be truly empathetic to needs outside of their own. This is the alpha/beta man of today.

    Despite what I perceive as rigid ideals in my sons, each found a woman to share the rest of his life (certainly both had many trial relationships previous to finding the right match). The oldest married someone in the military–Navy–who has a similar drive, confidence, and assertiveness. In many ways they are alike and I believe their shared understanding of military life and the sacrifice it required (even though now in the past) is what drew them together and kept them together in tough times. I believe my daughter-in-law is the only woman who could be his equal and lovingly challenge his rigidity and find compromise.

    The youngest is now engaged to a woman who is in many ways his opposite. She travels the world helping refugees in war-torn places and is devoted to stopping human trafficking. She is able to quickly discern when to be flexible and when to be rigid. She is equally adept at political brokering and being empathetic with the truly tragic circumstances in which she finds so many of the world’s population. What drew them together, however, is they are both idealistic. They both want to stop the bad guys in the world from wreaking havoc. Also, like my daughter-in-law, she is confident, is driven in her own career, and uses that same flexibility to discern when to lovingly challenge my younger sons rigidity.

    For me it is not difficult writing these alpha/beta heroes because I see them not only in my sons, but in their friends. If I were 30 years old I would definitely be attracted to that. The key is in providing a heroine who is equally alpha/beta. I think in romance novels even “kick-ass” heroines have been primarily beta characters who are forced by circumstances to become (or pretend to become) alpha characters. The new world, IMO, dictates that heroines start off equally strong (or equally weak) and know that they can live without a man in their life, but choose to have a man in their life–not because he completes them, but because sharing a life with someone who is an equal can be simultaneously a best friend and partner, as well as a great lover.


  5. Great insights, Nancy! I thoroughly enjoyed your post.


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