If you love books by Louis L’Amour, A.B. Guthrie (The Big Sky and The Way West) or Elmore Leonard (3:10 to Yuma), you may be a western fiction writer. In a nutshell, Western fiction deals with life and times of the American Wild West, mostly mid- to late- 1800’s. It used to be wildly popular, but is now less so, though those who follow it are eager for new, authentic publications.
If you are interested in testing out this genre, join Western Writers of America--the pre-eminant online organization for Western writers–and read these tips on thriving in that writing style:
- based in the American Old West with the attitudes, changes, manners, and lawlessness of that era
- as with historic fiction, be very sure of your facts. This includes clothing, language, structures, events, and more. Here’s a list of resources to get those details right.
- it’s OK to have stereotypical characters–the gunslinger, the saloon girls, the steel-eyed sheriff. In fact, readers want them, but add your own twist to make them unique
- whoever your hero, s/he must have a noble goal. As in thrillers, readers like a gutsy stand against all odds for a worthy reason.
- the hero must have a problem. Not someone else’s problem–his, that he alone can solve
- tell a captivating story. An analysis of emotions and motivations doesn’t interest readers as much in this genre as some of the others, though a compelling plot might make that work
Anyone write this style? I’d love to hear your feedback.
More Genre tips:
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. In her free time, she is editor of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. Currently, she’s editing a techno-thriller that should be out to publishers next summer.