Considering my genre, it’s natural for me to watch Westerns! Here are just a few of my favorites for you to check out.
Rio Bravo: John Wayne and Dean Martin defend the town from a corrupt rancher. Features a very young Ricky Nelson.
The Sacketts: based on Louis L’Amour’s books and starring Tom Selleck, Sam Elliott, and Jeff Osterhage. There’s another Elliott/Selleck/L’Amour story called The Shadow Riders, which is also very good.
El Dorado: another version of Rio Bravo actually, with John Wayne, Robert Mitchum and James Caan fighting evil Ed Asner.
Heck, I’ll watch almost anything with John Wayne in it!
Tombstone: Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Sam Elliott and Bill Paxton as the Earps and Doc Holliday.
The Magnificent Seven: Seven gunslingers come to the aid of a Mexican village.
Dances with Wolves: Kevin Costner and Graham Greene in the story of a Civil War soldier learning about the Lakota tribe.
And for sheer silliness…
Blazing Saddles: Cleavon Little and Gene Wilder try to save the town of Rock Ridge from corrupt Harvey Korman.
Many amateur writers mistakenly believe that they don’t need a solid grounding in the language in order to write. After all, great writers break the rules all the time, right?
The fact is, those writers break the rules precisely because they know which rules to break. You can’t write well if you don’t know which rules can be broken and which can’t – and in order to know that, you’ve got to know the rules in the first place.
If you want to be a good writer, or even a great one, get started with a solid grounding in your language.
- Spelling: know what the word is supposed to look like before you try to spell it in dialect
- Vocabulary: know enough words to say what you want to say
- Definitions: know what a noun is, or a possessive; understand what goes on behind your sentences so you know how to achieve the effect you want to achieve
- Process: know how to make the proper plural or past tense; understand how the words change depending on what you want them to do
- Grammar: know how to match your verb to your noun, or how to catch a run-on sentence or sentence fragment before you try to change things around
Any good language textbook will be useful if you didn’t pick up enough in school. Learn the rules so you can break them.
When I was scouting around for a place to set the Devon Day and the Sweetwater Kid stories, I checked out several cities that would have fit their bill back in the 1870’s. I wanted something west of the Mississippi, of course, and there weren’t many large cities in that area.
Denver, Colorado was one option. The Denver Pacific railway line would have been in place, and the city was a major stopping point for travelers. I decided the lads would have spent time here, especially between “jobs,” but would have eventually settled on an even larger city as their permanent base of operations.
San Francisco in the 1870’s rivaled New York City. Around 150,000 people called the city home, and Kye and Chance would have been able to blend right in. Plus, San Francisco was a modern wonder, with paved streets, gaslights, an excellent public transport system, and even skyscrapers.
It wasn’t too hard to pick the lads’ home city once I started looking at old photographs. They’d have gone for the bright lights and 24-hour entertainment.