Go West Young Man, Go West!


Go West Young Man, Go West!

By Rory C. Keel

“Not a hard man to track. Leaves dead men where ever he goes.” – Outlaw Josey Wales

The Western genre is defined by a specific time and place. Most are set west of the Missouri River from Mexico to the south and as far as Alaska to the north. The stories flourish with greenhorns, gringos and cattle driving cowboys. Usually set between about 1800 and 1890, the rugged hero or heroine always endures through any adversity.

Some of the most popular authors include Louis L’Amour, Zane Grey, and Elmer Kelton.

 Western Subgenres include:

Black Cowboy (buffalo soldier) and Civil War westerns.  Bounty Hunter stories of men chasing outlaws, and Cattle Drive westerns which are set during a frontier cattle drive, such as Larry McMurtry’s novel Lonesome Dove.

Cowpunk, these tales depict all sorts of bizarre happenings on the remote frontier with slight sci-fi slant. Eurowestern, Gunfighter, Indian wars such as James Fenimore Cooper’s 1826 novel The Last of the Mohicans.

Land Rush stories usually focus on the Oklahoma land rush. Lawmen (Texas Rangers) are about the honest lawmen who brought order and justice to the wild frontier. Mexican wars (Texan independence), Outlaw westerns, and yes, most of them wear black hats.

Railroad stories connect the east with the west and Range wars are stories where ranchers are pitted against the farmer. Romance is an overlapping subgenre, which features romance relationships in a ‘western’ novel. An excellent example of romance western is the anthology Give me a Texas Ranger by Jodi Thomas, Linda Broday, Phyliss Miranda and DeWanna Pace.

Wagon Train westerns tell the historical stories of the pioneers’ struggles on their transcontinental journey on the Oregon Trail.

Just remember “Every gun makes its own tune.” – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

roryckeel.com

Go West Young Man, Go West!


Go West Young Man, Go West!

By Rory C. Keel

“Not a hard man to track. Leaves dead men where ever he goes.” – Outlaw Josey Wales

The Western genre is defined by a specific time and place. Most are set west of the Missouri River from Mexico to the south and as far as Alaska to the north. The stories flourish with greenhorns, gringos and cattle driving cowboys. Usually set between about 1800 and 1890, the rugged hero or heroine always endures through any adversity.

Some of the most popular authors include Louis L’Amour, Zane Grey, and Elmer Kelton.

 Western Subgenres include:

Black Cowboy (buffalo soldier) and Civil War westerns.  Bounty Hunter stories of men chasing outlaws, and Cattle Drive westerns which are set during a frontier cattle drive, such as Larry McMurtry’s novel Lonesome Dove.

Cowpunk, these tales depict all sorts of bizarre happenings on the remote frontier with slight sci-fi slant. Eurowestern, Gunfighter, Indian wars such as James Fenimore Cooper’s 1826 novel The Last of the Mohicans.

Land Rush stories usually focus on the Oklahoma land rush. Lawmen (Texas Rangers) are about the honest lawmen who brought order and justice to the wild frontier. Mexican wars (Texan independence), Outlaw westerns, and yes, most of them wear black hats.

Railroad stories connect the east with the west and Range wars are stories where ranchers are pitted against the farmer. Romance is an overlapping subgenre, which features romance relationships in a ‘western’ novel. An excellent example of romance western is the anthology Give me a Texas Ranger by Jodi Thomas, Linda Broday, Phyliss Miranda and DeWanna Pace.

Wagon Train westerns tell the historical stories of the pioneers’ struggles on their transcontinental journey on the Oregon Trail.

Just remember “Every gun makes its own tune.” – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Rory C. Keel

Go West Young Man, Go West!


Go West Young Man, Go West!

“Not a hard man to track. Leaves dead men where ever he goes.” – Outlaw Josey Wales

The Western genre is defined by a specific time and place. Most are set west of the Missouri River from Mexico to the south and as far as Alaska to the north. The stories flourish with greenhorns, gringos and cattle driving cowboys. Usually set between about 1800 and 1890, the rugged hero or heroine always endures through any adversity.

Some of the most popular authors include Louis L’Amour, Zane Grey, and Elmer Kelton.

 Western Subgenres include:

Black Cowboy (buffalo soldier) and Civil War westerns.  Bounty Hunter stories of men chasing outlaws, and Cattle Drive westerns which are set during a frontier cattle drive, such as Larry McMurtry’s novel Lonesome Dove.

Cowpunk, these tales depict all sorts of bizarre happenings on the remote frontier with slight sci-fi slant. Eurowestern, Gunfighter, Indian wars such as James Fenimore Cooper’s 1826 novel The Last of the Mohicans.

Land Rush stories usually focus on the Oklahoma land rush. Lawmen (Texas Rangers) are about the honest lawmen who brought order and justice to the wild frontier. Mexican wars (Texan independence), Outlaw westerns, and yes, most of them wear black hats.

Railroad stories connect the east with the west and Range wars are stories where ranchers are pitted against the farmer. Romance is an overlapping subgenre, which features romance relationships in a ‘western’ novel. An excellent example of romance western is the anthology Give me a Texas Ranger by Jodi Thomas, Linda Broday, Phyliss Miranda and DeWanna Pace.

Wagon Train westerns tell the historical stories of the pioneers’ struggles on their transcontinental journey on the Oregon Trail.

Just remember “Every gun makes its own tune.” – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Rory C. Keel

Elmer Kelton on Westerns


Elmer Kelton on Westerns

By Natalie Bright

Elmer Kelton remains one of my favorite western authors, and continues to be an inspiration for me in my efforts to publish my middle grade westerns. As I mentioned in a previous blog, the owner of Cactus Bookstore in San Angelo was a long-time friend of the great western author, Elmer Kelton.  He sold me a cassette tape featuring two of Kelton’s keynotes from a Chilsolm Trail workshop which was held in Fort Worth in June 1989. From that tape, I’ve paraphrased a list of advice from Kelton, in his own words.

1. Western genre is about authenticity. Stories are real: with real backgrounds, real incidents, about unusual events in history.

2. Read alot of history. Find obscure books without wide circulation. Look for periods of transition.

3. A plot should grown out of characters and situation.

4.  Conflict equals change. There’s always somebody changing and always others resisting.

5.  Best that can ever happen to a writer is when a character takes over the story and runs away with it.

6. Best three of all time that you should read: #1 A Trail to Ogalla by Vincent Capp; #2 North to Yesterday by Robert Flynn; #3 Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

7.  Greatest character ever portrayed: Augustus played by Duval.

Natalie Bright

Researching the West


Researching the West

By Natalie Bright

Tucked away on a little side street in San Angelo, Texas, a quaint bookstore is filled with hard to find books, the majority of which are westerns.

The owner of Cactus Bookstore was a personal friend of the great western author, Elmer Kelton. The store features an extensive collection of Kelton from used trade paperbacks to pricey autographed first editions. I asked him if Kelton had ever written a how-to book on writing. He said, “No, but I have this.” He handed me a cassette tape, 90 minutes, featuring two of Kelton’s keynotes from 1989. Marked down half-price, I grabbed it, and what a treasure. While it’s short on specific technique, it’s long on wonderful stories and quotes from the people who crossed his path. Kelton also shares his personal favorite western novels, and includes insightful background on creating unique characters.

I already own one of his recommendations: the most realistic account he knows of for a cattle drive, THE LOG OF A COWBOY by Andy Adams. Published in 1903 by University of Nebraska Press, I found this well-worn book at a used book store in the Dallas area.

For an entertaining read, it’s a little dry, however historians and writers will love it. Written in first person narrative by a young man who moved from Georgia to Texas after the Civil War, the specific details are invaluable. For example, here’s an excerpt about a sale which took place between Mexican vaqueros on a March day at the Rio Grande.

Here he explains the important count after the herd was transferred across the water. The cows were strung out between four mounted counters; a Mexican corporal, a US Custom House gov’t man, the drive foreman, and a drive hand. “…the American used a tally string tied to the pommel of his saddle, on which were ten knots, keeping count by slipping a knot on each even hundred, while the Mexican used ten small pebbles, shifting a pebble from one hand to the other on hundreds.” The story continues with two men agreeing on the same number of 3105 head, one man came one under and another came one over. The deal was sealed that night over dinner in Brownsville.

I’ll be blogging more about my prized Elmer Kelton tape. Thanks for following Wordsmith Six blog!