My Reason is Simple: Why I Want to Write the Next Great Western

Me and the Duke at The Memphis Film Festival 2012 for the 4th Annual Gathering of the Guns.
Me and the Duke at The Memphis Film Festival 2012 for the 4th Annual Gathering of the Guns. | Source

Why? Or Should I say Why Not......

Why do I want to write the next great western story? My reason is simple. I grew up watching westerns on television and at the movie theaters. Violence although found by the smoke of a cowboy’s six gun, only embellish fairness against evil forces. It is a battle to civilize the wide open wilderness and to accomplish a peaceful communication among the people trying to settle there. Family values strong enough to expand a century can be salt by exposure to a well written western. Lawmen and villains alike bring together a lesson for fighting off criminals by emphasizing the importance of being fair no matter what the price may be. If only I could pull off a story to set things straight in today’s world perhaps violence could be seen in a different light.

As I want to be a writer I want most of all to write something to impact this evil world and to make it a better place. Teaching good values is the answer. The best writings of values are taught from the Bible, but I believe God choose more than one source to wake up an evil world. I know my eyes were not opened by Sunday school lessons alone and beliefs are multiple across the world to support religion aspects. I learned many values from watching those old classic westerns and I know there has to be room for new ones now. I want to write a great western story. Call it a wish or call it a goal, but the first step in doing anything worth doing is convincing yourself you can do it and why you should. Lately, I have been watching classic westerns often hoping it will inspire me to write one. I have been collecting autographs from the classic western stars and have seen a few of them in person. I’m reading western novels old and new. Why? I say why not?

This is a faded screen shot of the classic western, The Virginian.
This is a faded screen shot of the classic western, The Virginian.

Elements to Support a Good Western

Whether, it’s a real life hero like Daniel Boone or a villain such as Jesse James, a western story can share a bit of fiction with factual events. Most westerns get their ideas from such historic happenings with only a glimpse into what is real. The trick is making it seem alive with all the thrills to capture a skeptic observer. The story can be totally fiction, but elements of truth like the setting of a real western town and its surroundings can make the audience share an illusion of their liking. Proof of this is found with Owen Wister’s famous novel The Virginian: Horseman of the Plains. Movies and television took Wister’s story to new levels. The results are a history lesson in itself as a great piece of literature in 1902 makes waves still yet to this day. Wister put his story time around the year 1886. What time he spent in the western town of Medicine Bow, Wyoming influences an array of imagination. He triggered a chain reaction to expand decades of wild scripts and anxious fans of all ages bound together with the cowboy’s code as its guide.

The stories told in my youth most often glamorize the rough lifestyle and many acts of heroism may have been soft spoken without much room for truth. But for the most part it was the attempt to entertain families of all ages. Truths of how the real west was won may not be favorable for a young audience or for any of us for that matter. We are not writing history books here. We need not tell all the shameful practices man had become accustom to while working his way west. We need not tell about thousands and thousands of acres of land robbed from the natives here. We know telling the truth would be painful and little is on record about the struggles our forefathers have had to face based on what actually happens. Stories have been told over and over.

A screen shot from the introduction to Lancer, another classic western.
A screen shot from the introduction to Lancer, another classic western.

The Making of a True Western

Cowboys and Indians fight wars. Cowboys and Mexicans fight wars. Revolutions are fought and civil rights are dramatized. The battles are won putting the spotlight on our ancestors. The movies, the books or the television’s version of a western explode fiction with a splash of history. A true western will not tell you anything. The making of a true western will show you.

With descriptive surroundings and action packed adventures a drama can unfold suitable for young people yet entertaining enough for the general audience. We can skip past the battles and start our adventures with wild mustangs or cattle drives. We need not travel to the far west to conjure up a successful story. This is America. We are already in a western frontier no matter where our story begins. We need only the right time frame to begin our western tale. This time frame must be before we are spoiled with cars, phones and electricity. We need wide open spaces with tiny towns or cities dotted along the way. We need to build drama by placing good over evil. Westerns will not survive without a bad guy or without a hero.

More children have been taught values by watching westerns than we could possibly know. The 50s and 60s contained more western films than any other era. This was the baby boom generation and I’m proud to be a part of it. This could be what makes me want to write a western drama. I hope the same reasoning comes for those wanting to read one.

Here I convince myself what I need to do to write a great western:

The western skies of vivid colors painted across the horizon minutes before the sun goes down will take your breath away. When the description is accurate enough, the picture does not require a camera, but only an attentive audience, eager to read more. Paint the picture with words as the reader fuses it in their mind and watches the silhouette of the cowboy riding his pony out of sight into the great unknown. Make it happen. Build a mountain and rush the waters of a stream through the roughed terrain. Light up the sky as lighting strikes with its jagged lines of fire. Bring on a downpour to drench man and beast alike. Calmness can fall as a gentle hand lays a baby down to sleep, but let the echo of a howling coyote break the silence and the infant may blat like a frightened calf.

Plots don’t need be extraordinary. Simple conflict can make for good reading. Villains are most likely bad men, but animals and sickness can build just as much drama. Don’t tell your story to anyone. Let your characters show them in their own way. Dialogue and lots of it will win the attention of most audiences. What works for other kinds of stories may work for westerns, but be careful or your story will not have the ability to enforce morals. Think about how you can add an element of surprise, a feeling of sadness and something to laugh about. A great western will include all of these. Take your time. Read it over and over. Value your reputation as a writer and don’t be alarmed if you can’t find anyone to give you an honest opinion, because someone will. Now, get started. The only one stopping you is you.

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Comments 2 comments

platinumOwl4 profile image

platinumOwl4 3 years ago

Hello Diana Lee, I hope you great success with your dream. However, I hope you include all of the people who were in the west not just another western which pretends that there were only Europeans in the west or any other part of the country. They were cowboys, laborer, soldiers and of course criminals.


Diana Lee profile image

Diana Lee 3 years ago from Potter County, Pa. Author

Thanks, platinumOwl4. I need all the encouragement I can get. I often lack the confidence to keep going on something I'm passionate about. I hope this will not be the case. It took all kinds of people from all walks of life to bring us to the America we see today. I only want to express the ways people use to live as the country developed from coast to coast. I hope I can put a bit of realism into it.

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