Writing Tips at GarySpeer.com

Tips for writers and musing about writing and life

Western novel excerpts revisited — how I got the idea, what I’m doing with it


When I posted the first excerpt from my Western novel, I made a comment or two about the genre and said it was more a “vanity” thing than anything else. I grew up back in the 1950s and ’60s when there were a ton of Western movies being made and lots of TV Westerns that were very popular. And, as it happens, my family has always been involved in someway with farming, ranching — mostly farming — and horses. Even today, my older brother and his wife own a very successful horse farm near Baltimore (a far cry from our southeast Nebraska/southeast Colorado family heritage).

So Westerns are a genre I love and feel very nostalgic about. Some years ago now, I ran onto a bona fide, published Western writer via an online forum. He and I hit it off, and at one point I accepted his invitation to attend the annual Western Writers of America Conference. From all that, I decided I wanted to write a Western novel or two.

What I posted here is most of Chapter One of “Buckskin Bob and the Fool’s Gold.” The scruffy, quiet little character mentioned at the beginning and end of the chapter is Buckskin Bob Wilcox, a character I invented as a sort of “what-if-Buffalo-Bill-had-been-timid-instead-of-imposing” idea. The setting for this novel, 1882 Denver, has some elements of historical fact. There was a mining and technology exposition held at a grand exhibition hall built just for that. Plans were to keep the exhibition hall in place and make it a real focus of the community. According to my research, the place was abandoned within a few years of the exposition and now lies under Denver’s original “Mile High Stadium” — or somewhere near there under some layers of gravel and concrete.

I’m seriously thinking about resurrecting old Buckskin Bob to see what I can do with him. My suggestion for you: Dust off your computer hard drive, sweep away some of the cob webs and reexamine old characters and story ideas you’ve set aside or even abandoned. There may be “gold in them thar hills” for you. Or as my friend Buckskin Bob might say: “You ain’t never gonna find out if you don’t give it a good try.”
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