I just moved to a new place in a new city and, with a daughter just starting college, I’m trying to save money by not installing cable or satellite. So I’m haunting the reruns on the internet. And I’m always in love with the geeks. Abby (NCIS). Spencer Reid (Criminals Minds). Raj (Big Bang Theory). Dr. Who (a la David Tennet and Matt Smith). Simon (Misfits). Harry (3rd Rock). Carol Seaver (Growing Pains).
Common sense says that I see myself in these quirky characters. We are odd but lovable. A good friend. Necessary to solving the puzzles. But we are not the leader. Not the romantic interest. We are the secondary characters in the action story.
I think it’s why I tend to write beta heroes – the more mild mannered guys less likely to run into a blazing building than the kind to talk the arsonist into extinguishing the fire starter before setting the fire. Is that less heroic than the alpha male’s actions? No. Not to me, anyways. I like a guy who uses his brains and is empathetic and strong, whether literally or figuratively. But honestly, it doesn’t make for good fiction to most. A man with a six-pack running through a hail of bullets is much more exciting. (OK, a man with a six-pack running through anything is exciting.)
Beta heroes are the behind the scenes movers and shakers. They are the mysterious force, the secret Santa that delivers the last minute gifts to the orphanage. They steal our hearts slowly but surely, often before we know what hits us. Now that’s powerful.