Discussion in 'By the Genre' started by A man called Valance, Aug 17, 2016.
Yup, nope, maybe? Just wondering.
Alive but wounded I'd say.
Alive, but niche?
There are a few literary-style westerns I've read in the last decade or so, but I haven't seen many of the Louis L'Amour style. Of course, I haven't really been looking for them.
(Oh, there's a reasonably strong market for Western Romance. But a straight-up Western? Not sure.)
I'd agree with this. "Pure" westerns aren't nearly as strong as they once were, but if there wasn't a market for them at all, they'd be outright dead.
Westerns mixing with other genres (Weird Westerns, Western Romance, etc.) seem like they have a fairly bright future ahead of them.
I never really paid attention to the western as a literary genre, but I really liked 'Blood Meridian' by Cormac McCarthy. As with everything, it depends on how well it is executed.
IDK. Of all the time periods and genres, it has never really interested. It seems weird that I would rather read about pirates, or things like The Count Of Monte Cristo, all the way up to modern and beyond. Not really sure why but western just seems to be the odd man out. Perhaps there is a lack of any good lore within the subject matter, or not enough to really play around with. But I have liked some western hybridization to other genres. Just haven't found any in written form which is a little strange. That and as a standalone maybe it is just not as interesting. But you never know, someone is bound to come up with a unique idea with in the genres. Kinda like Sparkly zero rules apply vampire lady, but much more involved and exciting.
So the machines are keeping the body alive, now just need to get the mind back.
I am afraid the generation of TV and movie westerns has made the genre uninteresting to the younger reader. I quite enjoy some of said shows that my parents watched as younger people... but think for a moment about the world we live in. How many people really understand the western culture on a level that would make them interested in reading about it? I've taken people on (dude-ranch) cattle drives who didn't even realize milk came from cows. Seriously. That happens. More than you think.
I really hope there is still a market for a "western" novel, but I think no matter what, the genre is changed. I feel like anything with a horse, a cow, and a cowboy hat in it will be considered a western nowadays... even if it does have crossover elements.
It depends on the treatment. If you're talking standard (classic?) westerns, I'd have to say they're dead. But add a new element (gay love, alien attacks, etc.) and suddenly they're viable again. I have an idea for a western science fiction horror comedy I'll likely be rolling out one of these days.
I'd have said that a western is just an adventure story/thriller set in the wild west, so if its well written/plotted etc then yep i'd be interested just like I would for any other well written exciting thriller. I liked the Robert B Parker Westerns (Apaloosa etc) for this reason , althoug i bought the first one more because i'm a fan of his spenser books than because i specifically wanted a western
I don't like genre Westerns—although I read my share of Zane Grey as a child—but I love reading stories SET in the Old West. It's one of my favourite periods to study, and it's the era I used to set my own novel.
I think the old 50's-style shootemups are dead as door posts, and not before time. They presented a totally skewed view of what the west was like for the early settlers and what folks actually encountered. Bad men and shootouts at dawn didn't figure much.
However, there was lawlessness, for many reasons. Sometimes just because the law didn't exist in an area, or because places were easy to escape to and from. But to focus on the lawlessness and criminal violence is to forget what most people did, which is settle and attempt to make homes for themselves, or people who went west to get rich quick in legitimate (although not terribly environmentally friendly) ways.
It also pretty much bypasses what happened to the people who were already there, who were so badly treated or killed by the incomers and/or driven on to reservations which was a very poor trade for the amount of land they lost the usage of. The breaking of the western frontier was a very quick period of time in American history, but also one of the most pivotal times. It's certainly not something that should be dismissed as trivial or lacking lasting impact.
The best written mix of traditional stock Western and real stuff that I've read are the books by Elmer Kelton. He's actually really good—and surprisingly amusing—and is fairly contemporary (he just died a year or two ago, and while he wasn't young, he wasn't ancient either.) There is still a subgenre of Westerns (and an association called Western Writers of America) so there are still Western readers out there. I just don't think we have too many of them here on this forum. (With the exception of @matwoolf, of course....)
I don't think it's dead, by any means, but I don't think too many younger people are interested, and it may die out with its readers unless it changes, or circumstances change. Mind you, I doubt the people who like reading Westerns are also reading zombie horror, teenage vampire or dystopican fantasy stuff either. However, all readers buy or acquire books, so it makes sense to give the reading public what it wants. And here's a clue: not everybody wants the same thing! Older people are just as likely (maybe even more so) to be readers as younger ones. We're constantly being told that the 'baby boomers' are the largest generational group in history. So don't forget, we are also reading books. And we're the ones who grew up with Roy Rogers, Zane Grey, Bonanza, etc. So yeah, we're still out there, and in large numbers.
Like others have said, the western genre can be merged with anything. It's only essential qualification is to be set in 19th century American West, right? The possibilities are endless. I've been working on what I would label as an alternate universe science fiction western and I think it will appeal to a great number of different people.
I don't really think you can kill something like that. It might not be as mainstream as it once was but dead? I hardly think that. I'm sure there will always be someone writing a western or a variation of it. Besides these things come in waves, don't they? What's that saying? Everything old is new again and all that stuff.
So sure westerns might not be the mainstream thing at the moment but I'm sure there will still be popular western books here and there and eventually (when the stars line up just right) it wouldn't surprise me if it became a real popular thing again.
Westerns are very much alive.
I don't think a genre, especially one that was as popular as westerns, could ever really die. Whatever you enjoy writing, I'm sure you are not the only one who enjoys it. If you write something you are not passionate about, it will most likely not be the best you could do anyway, so if you love writing westerns. Write the best western you can instead of something to please the masses that ends up being less than what you could do.
I am writing a Western novel, even though I realize the market is very small. There are a few popular Western writers such as Michael McGarrity, but most are modern-day Westerns (sheriffs solving crimes while on horse back). My project, TEN HORSES FOR SNOW HARE, has been designed to reclaim some of the traditional items of the genre along the lines of Zane Gray, Louis La'mour, and (believe it or not) David Morrell.
There are still a few literary agents who handle Westerns, and there is still a small market. If I were a professional writer i would never write a Western; as a tedious hack who writes two or three words a day, I like the fact that the genre market is small--- it means less competition for a part of that small market.
As someone who is not a professional writer, I am free to write what I wish, and not what I must to earn a living.
Like COWBOYS AND ALIENS?
Both of my writer friends in Santa Fe are members of the Western Writers of America association. Neither actually write Westerns however. One wrote a few best-sellers (17 on the New York Times list) with themes that can be considered "Western," though the stories are placed in the modern era (the Wyman Ford series).
There are still some damn fine Western writers out there. CROSSING PURGATORY is good, for example. A writer just needs to understand that there is no actual money in writing a Western.
I don't know that it's necessarily dead as much as it is sleeping. Some genres just tend to fall in and out of style depending on the mood of the population at large, like super hero stories.
Personally, I like how many opportunities there are for action and conflict in Westerns. I once heard of a real-life Western shootout in the short time Iowa was a territory in which rival gangs were shooting at each other through the floorboards of a house. I would love to see that in a novel somewhere.
One real-life event you might be interested in is the shoot-out that happened at Government Holes (Banning's Well) in East Mojave between Matt Burts and J. W. Robinson. They stood face to face in a small cabin, about ten feet apart, and blasted away at each other with single action .45 caliber revolvers, each striking the other with three or four bullets. Both blew chunks of blood, bone, and flesh out of the other, and both died. That was in year 1925. The story is told in my memoir DESERTPHILE.
I love westerns. Always have one in the glove box in car. They are far from dead, but may be classified as a niche now? There are some authors churning them out, but you need to be into their stuff.
Johnny D Boggs is currently a popular Western writer. He did a good job with the novel RETURN TO RED RIVER.
I am eighty years old. In my lifetime I have seen the Western market fluctuate, but never die. In the nineties I wrote a Western as a lark, put everything in it but old pickup trucks (wrong time frame). I knew nothing about the market, and found a copy of "Writer's Market" in the library, and choose Avalon Westerns. I mailed them my finished MS with no real expectations of ever hearing from them. But thirty days later I got a phone call that my submission was accepted. You could have knocked me over with a feather. Even more surprisingly my book was on the local library shelf just several months later. I had expected the process to take up to a year.
My title really sucked (Billy Bayes). I wished I had taken more time to come up with a better title. At the time the title didn't seem all that important. But the title is everything. My advice to any writer, no matter what the genre, to give attention to the title.
Lately I'm thinking of putting my solitary novel into a screenplay (as a lark). I'm having to teach myself the art of screenwriting. I'll pull it off, I'm almost certain. How do I know this? I know it because I don't feel pressured to get it done.
Cormac McCarthy was not a Western writer, per se. His earlier books were far from being Westerns (Child of God). He only took up that genre when he resettled out West and began his trilogy. He is considered a writers' writer by those in the field. I particularly like "All the Pretty Horses".
Fallout New Vegas is as far as I can stretch with western.
Separate names with a comma.