Saturday, January 24, 2015

Writing the Western Novel by Dac Crossley

There are two plot lines for western novels: Hero takes a trip and stranger comes to town. I’ve used both of them. In Guns of the Texas Ranger Nacho Ibarra has an unexpected journey through the Rio Grande Border during the time of the bandit raids. In Code of the Texas Ranger the old-time ranger Whitey Wilson upends people’s lives in Kingsville, Texas. What does he want?

Western novels are historical fiction. If you’re gonna write one you better have your facts straight. Put the wrong six-gun in the wrong era and somebody will jump on you in a review. I write about south Texas, the Wild Horse Desert south of the Nueces river, where culture clash yields a rich vein of story lines. I’ve found some old family narratives that set the scenes for me.

I think readers can relate to western stories because, in truth, they are the story of America. That’s what we Americans do -- Make a new start. Move on. Turn the page. Begin again. America’s first western frontier was in East Tennessee, when pioneers defied English law and crossed the Appalachians. We’ve always gone west, even today when ‘‘west’’ is a state of mind.

And America is ‘‘the west’’ to many now living in foreign lands. Immigrants want the chance to start over, turn the page, begin a new life. For them, we are the frontier. They bring a new dimension to the western story.

Dac Crossley (author of Revenge of the Texas Ranger)
January 19, 2015

‘‘Happiness, it turns out, is a destination we reach only when we are trying to get somewhere else.’’ -- Matthew Syed.


John Addiego said...

Good stuff!Nice addition to the blog!

Beryl Reichenberg said...

Thanks for the information on Westerns. I haven't read many in my life but maybe I should revisit this genre, especially now that I know that it is a reflection of our country's history (if done right). Beryl

jrlindermuth said...

Well put, Dac. The Western may be America's best contribution to literature.

Sharon Arthur Moore said...

At our community's little library (walk-in, take a book, return when you're done), the westerns give romances a run for the money in terms of readers. There is something so appealing about the history of our country's march to greatness. Thanks for the post, Dac.

Bonnie A Kelly said...

I agree, Dac. That is why I write them and read them. Always interesting stuff to discover when reading, researching, writing a western.
I don't understand why people have such a certain mindset when it comes to westerns. They can be romance, mystery, humorous....any kind of a story which just happens to be set in the west

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

Westerns are always fun reads. Good post, Dac!