My latest thoughts on writing, writers, and reading. Occasionally, I may stray off into horses, fly fishing, or the good fortune of living in the mountains.
So much to comprehend – all in one place!
A little known fact: When Kris Kristofferson wrote the line “He’s a walking contradiction,” he was writing about me. That’s little know because it’s not true that he wrote it about me. He’s never even met me.
Must Read: Why We Need Westerns
This country does not need a good five cent cigar, it needs good western novels. Don’t believe me? Read Lonesome Dove. It may well be the great American Novel.
There are those who think the western has gone out of style. They are wrong. The western may rise and dip in popularity, but it will never disappear. The Western is America, perhaps more American than any other literary genre.
I love writing in the setting of the old west. Writers like Louis L’Amour presented one version of the west, steeped in the myth of their own times. I, as I believe others in the genre now do, try to present a different version – more pervasive, character driven. I rarely write heroes, probably never, my characters are all flawed, They may do something heroic, but they are not Hoppy, Gene, or Roy. They also do things that may be selfish, weak, or almost cruel. When they fight, they fight to win, fighting fair may not enter into things.
I believe a good novel is based on the relationships of the characters. Time periods are sort of irrelevant. Think about Gus and Lorie, Gus and Woodrow, Dish and Laurie, Gus and Clara, Woodrow and Clara, Woodrow and Newt (of course I go to Lonesome Dove first). But there are also Scarlett and Rhett, Peeta and Katnis, Gatsby and Daisy, Huck and Jim, Scout and Atticus, Henry and Claire. Well you get the idea. Great characters and relationships make great writing.
I believe there is also an emergence of an historically underrepresented character in nineteenth-century historical fiction, the female. Nothing improves a western like a strong female character. No more damsels in distress. I write about females with problems and troubles, but never weak, helpless ones crying into their hankies.
Isn’t a good story a good story regardless of the time period?
Next time I’m going to write about writing HARD GOODBYES – about what motivated it, how characters sometimes change from what I intended them to be, take control of their own personalities, things that were cut from the first drafts, or added.