A Silver-Screen Western Hero’s Journey; or, The Rough and Ready Life of an Unpublished Author

Some Silver-Screen Western Heroes have big pecs and holsters hanging alongside their brass balls.

The Silver-Screen Western Antihero

Some have breasts that don’t sag and thighs without cellulite, even if they try to wreak vengeance in a poncho.

Gratiuitous Raquel Welch photo

All ride into town and act all aloof and lo! They get the girl and kick the villain’s ass. And their wounds? Nothing but flesh wounds, that a lovely lass can help doctor.

Beginning: They appear out of the blue, without a past. Convenient.

Middle: They strive to save the town despite villainous villain and  femme fatale in cowboy boots.

End: They posture in a showdown with a villain and dispatch said villain then either choose to stay with the community, hanging up their holsters with their brass balls, or they ride off into the wilderness, balls and holsters intact. They make it seem so easy. But imagine if life isn’t so cut and dry, so black and white. Instead of a town to save, you have 240+ pages to write, and nope–no lives are on the line. Just your self-resect.

At the start of writing a novel, you have it all planned out. Some of it anyway.

Beginning: You ride into your first draft of a novel, shooting guns like a rowdy cowboy for the sheer joy of it.

End: You know without a doubt you will ride into the bookstore where your novel is on the best-seller list, shooting guns like a rowdy cowboy for the sheer joy if it.

But the Middle. Yippi yi ki oy. Like a novel’s middle, there’re a multitude of ways to get from A to Z, and many of them rake you over coals–I mean, are adventurous. As in “dynamite fuse sputtering by your head as you try to saw through the bonds with a shard of glass” adventurous. There are dead ends. False leads. Red herrings. Bad moves. And then there are the stakes, which get upped up the wazoo with each revision. And then there is a showdown. Yikes.

Beginning is easy. It’s perseverance that’s a bitch. But  if you want to be a Silver-Screen Western Hero even on a late draft, here’s what you do.

Beginning: Ride into each revision without a past. No baggage. Shoot up the town or not–just keep your eye on the villain (you, as in your worst self). You want to write a novel; the villain (you) wants to keep you from writing it.

Middle: Stay focused and be decisive. And wiley. With each step, the villain (you) will try to stop you.

End: If you’ve been keeping up with that dastardly villain, the showdown won’t scare the bejeezus out of you. There’s no turning back though, once the guns come out of their holsters, so be prepared for a self-reckoning. Then blast away–life’s too short to postpone the inevitable facing of self.

The End…until next time. And go wild at that book signing, bucko!

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