Friday, 10 April 2015

Book Review: How to Write a Western in 30 Days

Write a Western in 30 Days: With Plenty of Bullet-Points!Write a Western in 30 Days: With Plenty of Bullet-Points! by Nik Morton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Want to write a western? This book will tell you how, more or less.

Much of the advice long-time western author Nik Morton gives is good, standard fare for any beginning writer. More experienced writers will find many pages not giving them anything they haven't seen in plenty of other how-to books and will end up skimming some sections.

Really only the research and theme chapters are specific to westerns, and they go over a huge topic too quickly. There are even occasional lapses, such as the list of Confederate states that doesn't include North Carolina, Alabama, and Florida! The border states that fought on both sides are also not mentioned, even though these provide the most grist for the writer's mill. There's also a handy appendix of western publishers which is still up to date, although of course it soon will be.

So what about the "30 days" part? Morton does, indeed, give a good overview of how to write a western novel (or indeed any novel) in a month. He relies a bit too heavily on planning and outlining for this author's taste, but all writers work differently and "plotters" will like his technique.

Books on specifically writing westerns are rare, so anyone interested in dipping into the genre should check this book out. Just don't expect to get a thorough treatment.

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Roland D. Yeomans said...

Hennie Faust, who used the pen name Max Brand, wrote hundreds of Westerns and only wrote two hours a day -- but EVERY day! Whew! And in those 2 hours, he churned out 14 pages!!

I shake my head in admiration. My favorite Max Brand book is THE STRANGER IN BOOTS, which asks what would have happened if Jesus appeared in the Old West?

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sounds like it's good for the beginner.

Sean McLachlan said...

Roland: Did he get shot?

Nik Morton said...

Thanks for the review, Sean. Much appreciated!

Sean McLachlan said...

Hi Nik!
Do you still live in Spain? I live in Madrid much of the year.

Looking for more from Sean McLachlan? He also hangs out on the Civil War Horror blog, where he focuses on Civil War and Wild West history.

You can also find him on his Twitter feed and Facebook page.