Thursday, January 6, 2011

How to Write a Western

I'm certainly not an expert of any type, but if you don't mind, I will now publish my instructions for writing westerns.

 In the first place, you have to have a beginning. You can't just start off without a beginning, and to start your beginning you need a direction. I use North-by-Northwest (I know, it was a movie with Cary Grant and that pretty blonde chick), but you have to get away from the swamps and alligators of East Texas to get in the mood, so calibrate your compass and head north-by-northwest herding those longhorns to where the Real West is, just past Bert's Crossing. Once there, you can start your beginning, which usually comes first, and head for the middle. Every novel I ever read since I was a tyke had a middle which started after the beginning and ran for a long, long time. Sometimes, I didn't think I would ever get through it and I didn't half the time until I was about four, five, six, somewhere along in there and found out that if I kept reading I would e-ven-tu--al-ly reach the ending.

You have to put in a good middle, make it exciting, fantastic, overwhelming, twisty-turny, and deep. The deeper the gullies and canyons, the better. The more suspense, mystery, and romance you can throw in, the better. Add a wide-open cowtown and wide-open spaces and a wide-open saloon batwing door and a wide-open barrel of whiskey. Put six or seven gunfight episodes in each chapter and make the hero squirm and cry bloody murder, and you'll see you're on the right track to the heart of the Western. When you fin-al-ly reach near the ending, make it a great transition from all the blood and gore and dead cattle and horses and men and Indians, and muleskinners and buffalo, and approach it with a more direct tone and syllabication (syllabication?? what the heck is that?). Turn directly West 13-and-a-half miles across Dale's Crossing and throw in some trash talk about who's the better man in a final showdown with the cattle thieves, and have the hero gun down thirty-two outlaws with his Colt .44 Peacemaker and a Belgian-made double-barreled 10-guage. A bloody mess to be sure! Then have the hero blow the smoke away from the gun barrel, grab the pretty lass with the big bazooms and kiss her directly on the mouth.  How sweet it is! Another best seller!

Whew! I better get to work on it.


  1. Thanks Oscar. If ever I get round to writing a full-blown western, I'm gonna do it just like that.

  2. I like the day in history you have to the side. I actually just read that very same article about 30 minutes ago! Neat!! I even went to a Montessori school!

    As for how to write a western...well I think you have it right! Have a great day!!

  3. Valance, you can't go wrong!

    Kracken, Thanks, lucky you to have gone to a Montessori.

  4. Well I guess I will start over since you went and told my story.
    Hey that was fun.

  5. Old Guy, never start over, just rewrite.

  6. Story of my real life--rewrite, rewrite and one more time

  7. Old Guy, And the life of many others.

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