Western Fiction Tropes Readers Never Get Tired Of

The 19th-century frontier has been a top genre for many, many years. Why? This may be because of how wild it was during that era. Plenty of authors enjoy writing about this as this tells the story of how America came to be. The display of strong, self-reliant people of the Old West. Because of the great appeal of the Old Wild West to readers, the western fiction genre formed. Novels— like Angels and Mysteries by Irv Lampman— captures the spirit of freedom, individualism, and adventure. The world during that time was independent of restraining society with some people who have morals and some without. 

So, does the idea of writing a story set in the old American frontier rouse your imagination? Then, you have to read this article before you venture into writing under this genre. It is a known fact that you can’t write a piece of genre fiction without researching it. The western genre is an intense, action-packed, deep work of fiction. This is also the most genre-specific book ever written. Western genres are shaped and driven by the elements of the period and the characteristics of people. Due to this, authors pressure themselves to twist stories to develop an authentic story. However, there are things that readers want to bring back again and again. Here are some western fiction tropes that authors and fans alike never get tired of reading about. 

The Lone Cowboy

Every western fiction book has a story of a cowboy, typically alone one. These knights of range galloping across the western frontier on the backs of their trusty steeds crusading to save the last watering hole, vanishing herd, and beleaguered homesteaders. They played an important role during that era. Besides their role, they gained a reputation for their iconic lifestyle, which has been glamorized in countless books. However, the lone cowboy trope is a famous one because there is an appeal to how mysterious this stranger who finds trouble is whether he wants it. 

The Sheriff

In a time where lawlessness is rampant, a hero will rise to enforce the law. And enter the sheriff. This is what readers loved about this trope. He is a tough, no-nonsense kind of guy who keeps everyone in line. He is the pinnacle of justice, and he will do anything to uphold it, even risking his life to do so. Most of the time, the sheriff is not the book’s main character; rather, he helps the hero with his iron fist. He makes the law, and no one can do anything about it, well, except for the protagonist. 

Shootouts and Duels

Another trope that no western novel ever neglects is the shootouts and duels. What would a western novel be without these? This is where the action comes. The loud gunfires, chaos, fear, quickdraw duels, blood spraying, keeping readers on the edge of their seats. And after all standoffs and gun smoke comes out the victor. Duels and shootouts are seen all the time in the climactic moments of western novels. 

Hero Reeling From a Dark Past

Most heroes written in novels have a mysterious past that will be revealed little by little in the narrative. This is similar to an anti-hero who has opposite attributes to the standard hero character. This is a character that is an outsider to the standard-setting. Much Western literature revolves around a bitter, grizzled hero who has a dark past that he may be trying to leave behind. The mistakes and tragedies of his past are holding him back from looking into the future. 

Frontier Justice

Because it was lawless during that time, crimes are rampant. And civilians who want to save their families or protect their county created punishments for criminals themselves. Punishments are usually interesting, controversial, and unusual executions but typically are hangings, beheadings, and shootings. Readers never get tired of this trope as it still amazes them how law and order were served in a time of chaos. It has also been written in history that money and violence ruled the Wild West. 

Revenge Story

It seems as though the western is always out for revenge, and readers can’t get enough. This might be a typical theme, but the authors added their twists to the plot, making readers crave more. The reason can be as simple as humiliating the main character or stealing from them to complex ones where bandits kill the protagonists’ loved ones. Readers sympathize with the bad guys, and you should take advantage of that. I mean, who wouldn’t want to get revenge to murdered their loved one. This leaves readers satisfied, even when the characters don’t. 

Western Natives

We all know that natives first resided in America before the settlement by the English. They were the owners of the land. Unfortunately, they are often portrayed in a bad light or written stereotypically. The struggle between cowboys and natives or Indians is a classic in the western genre. Also, some books celebrated the West’s conquest and the decimation of the Native American population, which is sad. However, some authors wrote the Indians respectably and opened the eyes of readers into a new world. 


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