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Western Subgenres Part 1

Last week, we explored the Suspense and Thriller skeleton. This week, we look at Western subgenres.

1. Australian Westerns are set in the Australian outback and replace Native Americans with the indigenous aborigines. The protagonist can be an American dissatisfied with the rapidly-filling western United States who settles in Australia's vast outback. It could also be a protagonist from somewhere else who decides to try his luck.

2. Black Cowboy Western (aka (buffalo soldier) is inspired by the US Army’s 9th & 10th Calvary, and use the western frame with an African-American protagonist.

2. Bounty Hunter Westerns focus on a bounty hunter tracking down a criminal.

3. Cattle Drive Westerns focus on the challenges of moving a herd of cattle from one location to another, usually fighting off an antagonist who wants to steal them. Can also be a coming of age tale of a youngster who participates in the cattle drive.

4. Civil War Westerns are set during 1861 to 1865 or just after the war. The battles were waged as far west as New Mexico. The battle between Blues and Grays continued to simmer long after the war was declared over.

5. Classic Westerns feature normal cowboys trying to tame the frontier. There are shootouts and saloons and harlots with a heart of gold. There is usually a hero who is either a cowboy or a lawman who steps in to save the town from an unscrupulous foe.

6. Cowpunk Westerns borrow their title from science fiction's 'cyberpunk,” combining Science Fiction or Fantasy elements with the Western structure.

7. Doctor and Preacher Westerns feature either a doctor or a minister who try to civilize the wild west by bringing either medical or spiritual enlightenment.

8. Eurowesterns are set in Europe and include the spaghetti westerns from Italy, but there were also western motifs used in Germany, Russia, and Spain.

9. Gunfighter Westerns have the lone gunman who drifts into town and has to use his unique gun fighting abilities to overcome a brutal antagonist threatening the town. He sometimes has a posse with him, but he is the one who ultimately saves the day.

10. Humorous/Parody Westerns combine the Comedy structure with the Western in a lighthearted way or to poke fun at the genre itself.

11.Indian War Westerns explore the battles of the white pioneer against the native Americans. Earlier tales portrayed the Indians as savages who needed to be tamed. Later examples explored the plight of the Indians in a more sympathetic light, exposing the cruelty on both sides.

12. Land Rush Westerns explore the drive of pioneers to claim new lands as they “opened” out west and the difficulties they faced on the journey and their success or failure once they arrived.

13. Lawmen Westerns focus on the honest lawmen (Often a Texas Ranger) bringing order and justice to the outlaw west.

14. Mexican War Westerns are set in Texas during 1845 to 1848 surrounding the time of the Alamo and the battle over the border between Mexico and the US.

15. Modern Indian Westerns are set in the current era, usually on a reservation, and focus on protagonists dealing with the realities of the Native Americans' plight or the clash of ancient heritage with modern technology. They usually feature a Native American protagonist who is a policeman or tribal leader.

Next week, we will finish the list of Western subgenres. 

Check out the newly released Western Build A Plot Workbook in print and ebook to help you plan your showdown. In addition, lookup the Build A World Workbook in print and ebook to help you develop your Wild West World.

For more about how to craft plots using conflict check out, Story Building Blocks: The Four Layers of conflict available in print and e-book and check out the free tools and information about the series on my website.

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