By Sylvia Ney
While I could go on and on about my love of Westerns, here are my top 5 reasons for reading and writing in this amazing genre:
The History – so much of American life can be learned from studying fact, and even enjoying the fictional West. As the original “melting pot”, westerns often offer glimpses into the cultures that helped create our country. Taking part in “manifest destiny” and the gold or silver rushes are just a few examples. And while it’s not always an accurate depiction, westerns are one of the last ways to explore Native American civilization. Elmore Leonard and John Wayne fans know this better than most.
The Food – many families don’t cook, or teach their children to cook, anymore. Fast paced lives relegate dinnertime “to go” or defrosting our latest choices. Westerns frequently include references to cultivating your own food, as well as how to prepare it. Authors have even taken to including recipes referenced with their tales, or compiling an entire cookbook based on the genre. The Texas Cowboy : A History in Recipes and Photos.
Family Time and Community learning – Westerns often depict more family and community time than contemporary stories. Families worked, learned, and died together. Learning to make your own materials, toys, home repairs, animal care, and community service projects are often skills highlighted in these stories. Even the more contemporary ones often focus on these important aspects. I love to use these aspects in my own westerns such as Broken Angel.
Adventure and Excitement – traveling to new places, trying new skills, old-fashioned gun fights and duels, posses, dime novels, cowboys and Indians, lawmen and drifters, the women’s rights movement or damsels in distress, bounty hunters and gamblers, gunslingers and outlaws, and rodeos all offer a variety of stimulating feats to the reader. Linda Lael Miller may be the queen of writing in this style.
Open to any genre – westerns no longer need to be a category on their own. Whether you enjoy a swoon-worthy cowboy romance, or you’re a science fiction fan (Cowboys and Aliens) westerns offer something for everyone.
I’d love to hear what you enjoy most about westerns. Feel free to share your favorites in the comments, or contact me through my social media.
Sylvia Ney is a freelance writer, editor, and teacher. She is currently serving as a Board Member of both the Texas Gulf Coast Writers and Bayou Writers Group in Louisiana. She has published newspaper and magazine articles, photography, poetry, and short stories. To learn more or connect through various social media, visit: http://www.sylviacney.com/