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Western Subgenres Part 2

This week, we continue a rundown of Western subgenres:

16. Mormon Westerns explore the settlement of Utah by the Mormons during the 1840s and 50s.

17. Outlaw Westerns explore the attempts of law enforcement to deal with some of the outlaws and their gangs of the time such as Jesse James, Billy The Kid, and The Dalton Brothers. They can combine the Con and Heist formula with the western if the outlaw is the protagonist.

18. Prairie Settlement Westerns combine the Literary structure with the Western and focus on the difficulty of taming of the vast flat plains of the Midwest during the 1800s. The protagonists can be Europeans who decided to try their luck.

19. Prospecting/Gold Rush Westerns are set in California during the 1860s or Alaska in the 1890s and explore the quest for gold and silver by panning or mining.

20. Quest Westerns use the hero’s quest structure set in the untamed frontier. The protagonist has something he has to find, prevent or obtain.

21. Railroad Westerns focus on the Central Pacific and Union Pacific companies’ efforts to stretch railroad lines from the east coast to the west coast from 1807 to 1912. They faced difficult terrain and employed indentured Chinese workers as well as Native Americans, chain gangs, and many others.

22. Range War/Shepherd Westerns focus on the homesteaders fighting with the cattle ranchers over grazing lands. Some of these stories focus on the battles between shepherds, mostly Basque immigrants, and the wool merchants who owned the flocks.

23. Revenge Westerns feature a protagonist who storms into town to exact his revenge on a criminal that escaped justice or someone who injured him or his family.

24. Revisionist Westerns portray the Native American in a more positive light. They go from being villain to the vilified. The themes question the morality of violence and whether might truly makes right.

25. Romance Westerns fuse the romance structure with the Western structure. They don’t necessarily end happily. This is often the “mail order bride” or “marriage of convenience turns into true love” format.

26. Town-Tamer Westerns feature a protagonist, sometimes with his own posse, who is, sometimes reluctantly, forced to step in and take on the bully running the town.

27. Trapper/Mountain Man Westerns focus on protagonists who head west before the mass arrival of pioneers. He is typically a loner and is forced to live in Indian territory. He has to adapt to their ways and often takes on a Native American bride.

28. Wagon Train Westerns follow the wagon trains heading west. The protagonist is often the leader of the wagon train and must defend his charges against extreme hardships and sometimes savage Indians or bands of outlaws.

29. Women Westerns feature gutsy, female protagonists who are determined to triumph over the west. She sometimes sets out alone or is widowed or orphaned and must survive on her own along the way.

Whew. That is a whole lot of Wild West.

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.

Next week, we examine the building blocks that make up the Western story skeleton.
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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