Ever since I started paying attention to books and such from a writer’s perspective, as well as a reader’s, I have heard over and over again that the Western is dead.
This point of view, I think, results from the dominance of Westerns for decades, not only in books but in magazines, television series, and feature films. During the early to middle years of the twentieth century, Westerns—mostly of the shoot-’em-up variety—were everywhere you looked, and the genre dominated entertainment like no other has since.
Folks who remember those days decry the lack of Westerns nowadays and mourn the relative dearth with predictions and forecasts of doom and gloom about the future (or lack thereof) of entertainment based in the American West.
Don’t you believe it.
While it is true that Westerns don’t dominate the market like they once did, and the popularity of Western stories in the traditional style has waned somewhat, there is still plenty of writing about the West out there.
One element that keeps the Western alive and thriving is a more expansive—and realistic—view of the West among writers, publishers, and producers. And readers. Female characters have emerged into more prominent roles. Beyond horseback good guys vs. bad guy plots are stories about towns, trails, trade, and more.
And the modern-day West has become the setting for stories that rely on the unique aspects of the region.
Then there’s the fact that nonfiction about the West—both historical and contemporary—enjoys widespread popularity.
Another factor is the spread of Westerns into other genres. You’ll find more and more mysteries, thrillers, romances, even science fiction set in the West.
All in all, things look pretty good Out West, whether you’re a writer or reader who enjoys the landscapes, climates, economies, cultures, and history that make our region the defining facet of our country.