Why a western?

My upcoming story, Montana Belle, is a western set in (obviously) Montana, in this case, 1880s Montana. Why did I decide to write a western? It’s not a thriving genre nowadays. As a standalone genre, westerns per se have practically disappeared from the bookstores. Even as a romantic subgenre, they’re relatively uncommon. In a genre dominated by werewolves, vampires, shapeshifters, Regency-set historicals, and suspense, westerns are a distant contender for most popular subgenre. Yet they endure. Why? I have a few theories.
The appeal of the wild west or pioneer days is never-ending. The wild west was a time of few rules and boundless opportunity. Social mores were loose, at least for the time period. Settlers could come from nothing, and, with a little luck and a lot of hard work and endurance, reshuffle their spot in the social order, something that wasn’t possible back east. (Montana Belle involves a hero who does just that.) The landscape, wild, rugged, and dangerous, is without a doubt a character in most westerns. The setting is also rife with opportunities for conflict: Rancher versus farmer. Native Americans versus white settlers. Outlaws versus law enforcement. Miners versus miners, and miners versus the elusive metals and minerals they set out to find, often with heartbreaking results.
In addition, the wild west doesn’t present the difficulties some other historical settings do. Civil War romances have fallen out of vogue partly because of the difficulty of dealing with slavery, although I still think that the right writer can mine that setting for a great story too. We’re more used to seeing movies set in the wild west than say, colonial times, so there is a natural reader familiarity and comfort level with the time period. When you consider the natural opportunity for drama and the unique place these stories have in our American national character, it’s no wonder westerns have endured.

About Linda Morris

Linda Morris is a multipublished writer of contemporary and historical romance. She writes stories with heart and heat, and a joke or two thrown in. When she's not writing, working, or mommying, she's doing yoga, reading, working in her flower garden, or baking delicious things she probably shouldn't eat. A beat-up old copy of Kathleen Woodiwiss's "Ashes in the Wind" that her mom bought for her at a garage sale years ago was her "gateway drug" into the world of romance novels. Her all-time favorite romance writers include Laura Kinsale, Patricia Gaffney, Elizabeth Delancey, and Marjorie Ferrell. Current favorites include Julie Anne Long, Erin McCarthy, and Shannon McKenna.
This entry was posted in Montana Belle, Western romance, Wild West. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Why a western?

  1. I love my paranormal romances, but westerns are close to my heart, too. I grew up watching Alias Smith and Jones, Bonanza and re-runs of the Big Valley. There's just something about a cowboy. 🙂

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  2. Lauri says:

    Give me a western any day…every day actually! Great post!Cheers!

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  3. Vonnie Davis says:

    I most certianly love Westerns. Ya gotta love a cowboy. Keep writing them, and I'll keep reading them.

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  4. Kathy Otten says:

    I love westerns too. The whole mystique of "Never shot a man in the back," and "When you call me that, smile." When I tried submitting them through convential publishing I was told westerns didn't sell. When I looked on bookstore shelves they were few and far between. So did that mean readers didn't buy them because they weren't available or because no one liked them.

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  5. Celia Yeary says:

    LINDA–you're probably getting comments from all western writers today! That's because we're still around, those that read and write western romances–historicals for me. Different categories come and go, but there's always the enduring western romance. It's still here. Celia

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  6. P.L. Parker says:

    I grew up on Louis L'Amour – my dad always had one of his stories laying around and I always read them. Not exactly western romances for the most part, but I enjoyed every one.

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  7. Mary Ricksen says:

    There is something innately romantic about the West. Love to read a good one!Constance O'Banyon and Linda Lael Miller look out!

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  8. Alison H. says:

    You've said it perfectly, Linda. I love to read (and write) Western romance for exactly the reasons you've stated. It really does speak to our definition of our national character.

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  9. Linda, I write and read western romances, and also have read all of the Louis L'Amour books except the ones he wrote for Hoppalong Cassidy. I grew up loving Texas history and it overflowed to the entire west.

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  10. Linda, I write Westerns under the pseudonym L. W. Rogers and Western Romances under my own name. Yep, Westerns are considered a niche market. It's odd, though, that the library in my county always has a waiting list for my L. W. Rogers Westerns. I love the old west and the honorable code of the 'real' cowboy. Perhaps, one day, we'll see Westerns rise in popularity, again.www.lorettacrogersbooks.com

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