Skip to main content

Western Fiction Genre

Select the face of a western fiction author that you find interesting and discover more.

I don't have a ranch or work regular on one, but being a cowboy is more than wearing boots or a big hat. It has to do with standing good on your word.

Discover me

My interest in the Wild West sprang from a general love history and from the western movies and television shows that were made during my childhood in the sixties and seventies.

Discover me

When not writing or traveling to research my fiction, I enjoy collecting and restoring old English sports cars.

Discover me

I avidly read the history of Western America and collect books on the subject. When I'm not sure of something, I do my research.

Discover me

I never gave any thought to writing in genre. It so happened I was good at writing about violent death.

Discover me

I have written 26 eBooks about the wild west notched on my belt! You’ll find the cowboys in my eBooks tough, the villains cold-hearted and the women strong and willing to fight for what’s right.

Discover me

I've been sprayed by a skunk, eaten a moose's nose and intentionally started a cow stampede to help myself describe situations in my western novels.

Discover me

For me, most stories start as a single scene that refuses to leave my imagination.

Discover me

I write a great deal on the road, on the airplane and in hotels, because that’s pretty much the only private time I have.

Discover me

Travel remains my fondest pastime, and I love the French, whether they like me or not.

Discover me

The ugly fact is books are made out of books. The novel depends for its life on the novels that have been written.

Discover me

I got started on the Western books fairly early because, growing up around cowboys, I related to the Western story very strongly.

Discover me

I see myself as an entertainer. I'm trying to write good books, make people laugh, make them cry, provoke them, make them angry, make them think if possible.

Discover me

I like to find historical characters who are little known, and who have done the unexpected. That’s why so many of my main characters are women.

Discover me

I'm sure all writers have things they do while writing that others would think is pretty strange.

Discover me

I call myself a plotting pantser. I write the first three chapters by the seat of my pants and then stop and plot so I can do a detailed synopsis.

Discover me

Western Fiction genre definition

The Western Fiction genre can be described as a novel, or collection of stories set in 19th century frontier America. This is usually combined with a strong, self-reliant central character and simple plots that are full of action. They often involve cowboys, cavalrymen, lawmen, and outlaws of the Old West.

The appeal of the Western Fiction Genre

The appeal of this genre is Worldwide, and reaches out to those who dream of freedom in a world of unspoiled nature; those who dream of having independence, individualism and adventure in a restraining society.

The people of the Old West

The settling of the west was one of the great dramas of all time. People plunged into a wilderness and were on their own, dependent on their own character and courage. The mystery of the vast nothingness draws men, and men answer the calling - some with morals and some without. These were knights of the range, galloping across the western frontier on their trusty steeds crusading to save the last watering hole; the vanishing herd and the beleaguered homesteaders.

Sub Genres

The Western is multi-faceted and that it contains several sub-genres with films that are essentially about the Indian Wars, the Civil War, the Mexican Wars, range wars, the railroad, wagon trains, cattle drives, prospecting, outlaws, gunfighters, town-tamers, revenge, quests and even romance.

The possible range of sub-genres for Western Fiction could even include:

  • Bad Men and Good
  • Best Westerns
  • Black Cowboy
  • Boy into Man
  • British Westerns
  • Buffalo Runners
  • Cattle Drive
  • Cattle Kingdoms
  • Celebrity Western
  • Classic Authors Early
  • Classic Authors Recent
  • Comedy and Parody
  • Detective Story Western
  • Doctor and Preacher
  • Fantasy Western
  • Gothic Western
  • Hired Man on Horseback
  • Indian Captivities
  • Indians
  • Indians Today
  • Inspirational Westerns
  • Land Rush
  • Law and Lawmen
  • Lost Mines
  • Mining
  • Mormons
  • Mountain Men
  • Mysterious Rider
  • Picaresque
  • Pre-Columbian Indians
  • Racy Westerns
  • Railroads
  • Range Wars
  • Romance
  • Science Fiction Westerns
  • Series
  • Sheepmen
  • Singular Woman
  • Stage Lines Mule Trains and Merchants
  • Sweet and Savage Western
  • Texas and Mexico
  • The True West
  • The West Still Lives
  • Town Marshal
  • Wagons West and Early Settlement
  • Wild Horse Hunt

Origins of the Western Novel

Western Novels featuring legendary heroes have been popular for a long time and got their start in the penny dreadfuls and later the dime novels.

At the time, numerous authors produced works that dramatised the tensions between the wild, untamed frontier and rapidly encroaching civilisation. James Butler Hickok aka Wild Bill Hickock was featured in a series of Dime Novels. It was the end of the nineteenth century that witnessed the full-blown emergence of the western novel.

The Virginian

The Virginian, published 1902, is considered by many to be the ground-breaking literary western novel, containing the central element of a rugged individual who stick to his guns in the face of trouble, neglecting chances to simply walk away. This seeming collection of clichés was innovative and hugely popular in 1902, and elements of this blueprint appear in most Western stories ever since.

The future for Western Fiction

While the Western genre enjoyed its Golden Age in the 1930s and 1940s and remained a vibrant genre through the 1950s and 1960s. It's fair to say, that most mass-market publishers have now abandoned genre westerns - and the majority of the remaining ones seem to concentrate on dead western authors.

Having said this, if your heroes are still Cowboys, then there is still a positive outlook!

Considering that western fiction is no longer a significant part of mainstream publishing and exists only as a niche market, University presses have to some extent taken up the slack, publishing a little western fiction and Nonfiction.


Although it seems doubtful that the Western will ever regain its place as the major American genre and possibly doesn't resonate with people the way it used to; It’s nice to know that far from having passed on to that great round-up in the sky, the Western novel is very much alive.

This is a genre that includes a number of talented writers, and as such is a valid means of expression. It is the lure of the far horizon, the quest, the voyage of discovery, and the illusory hope of starting afresh in a new world. It's what drew the pioneers over a century ago, and it draws us today.