Sunday, July 27, 2014

WRITING WESTERN ADVENTURE

I write western adventure stories. Westerns have a strange market. Go into one of the big-box book stores and ask for “westerns.” Likely they’ll lead you to a small shelf with one or two Louis L’Amour paperbacks, maybe a Tony Hillerman or an Elmer Kelton. But down the street at the used book store you’ll find an entire wall of western paperbacks, tattered but readable.

I should be writing used books!


Seriously, the genre is under-appreciated. Agents don’t want to talk with a western writer; they’ll tell you they can’t sell westerns. Maybe that’s because they are from New York City? I’m lucky that I found Oak Tree.


There are two basic western plots: “Stranger comes to town” and “hero takes a trip.” Louis L’Amour rode those two horses a long way. I’ve used both plot devices and I’ll do so again.

You know the outline. The mysterious stranger rides in. He’s fast with his guns and fists; never starts a fight but finishes them. The school teacher (or a barmaid) falls for him but he’s always a gentleman. He solves the town’s problem, whatever it is, and then rides away into the sunset. Been done many times; always a favorite.

I tell people that westerns are really the story of America. Pull up stakes and start over someplace else. Reinvent yourself. Turn the page. That’s what we Americans have always done. Go west. A new life awaits you.

Western adventure stories tell us how it’s done.

Dac Crossley is the author of The Border Trilogy

5 comments:

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Good post. Westerns are definitely underrated!

Billie Johnson said...

With the addition of DAC and BA Kelly and Carolyn N...I have become quite a fan of the western, and look forward to adding more to our WILD OAKS line!

jrlindermuth said...

Couldn't agree more, Dac. The western is the perfect continuation of the quest theme, the oldest in literature. The world needs more westerns.

Anonymous said...

Read all your books and hope you write many more! Will buy them all! Shirley White

Sharon Arthur Moore said...

You're in my TBR queue. I agree, the western is an underappreciated, but continually popular genre. Nice post.