Thursday, September 18, 2008

Western Characters

There are so many fascinating occupations you can choose from when making a hero in a western. Lawmen, Outlaws, Ranchers, Entrepreneurs. That's the one I want to talk about today. The character who knows what he wants and single-mindedly makes it happen.

The entrepreneur was a man or woman who could look at a situation and find a way to capitalize on it. It could someone who came with the first hoard of gold seekers and realized he’d make more money selling the miners goods or setting up a saloon. Or it’s the woman brought to the mining area by a husband, father, or son and realizing she can get gold by either doing laundry or cooking meals. There were also the men who realized mining towns needed food and staples to grow. They bought a wagon and horses and started hauling the goods. Eventually, they added more wagons and employees until they dominated the freighting in that area. And don’t forget the men with capital who invested in banks, hotels, saloons, and eventually railroads. When the railroad started moving west, men in an area would pool their finances to help build a railroad in their town hoping to instill growth and bring the larger lines to them. Some of the largest ranches started from hard labor and determination.

And let’s not forget the entrepreneurs who walked a thin line on the right side of the law. The Gambler. This was a man or woman who could walk into a town broke and leave with half the town’s money. Sometimes legally, sometimes not.

An Entrepreneur would have such a single-minded focus that making them fall in love would be an effort and make for good conflict. Especially if the other character was set on making the goal oriented character her/his conquest. There are so many fabulous character traits you can attribute to this type of character that you can make great scenes. And that's one of the reasons I write historical westerns- and the fact you can put them in times and places that are as wild and stubborn and the characters.

What is one of your favorite westerns that had an entrepreneurial character as the hero or heroine?


Lauri said...

Great post, Paty!

But, I have too many favorites to list just one! I love a good gambler, but then again, give me a Texas Ranger and I’m lost until the last page. However, a Montana cattle baron, Colorado gold miner, or even a Kansas dirt farmer can keep me reading until the wee hours of the morning as well. Oh, let’s not forget the Calvary men…

I read a book years ago (can’t remember the title or author) about a heroine who was a go getter, she made some of the most outrageous hats, (and made a fortune doing it). The hats drove the hero crazy. I remember laughing out loud about some of the ‘hat’ mishaps. I’ve looked for it, to re-read, but have never came across it again.

Linda LaRoque said...

Let's not forget Miss Kitty of Gunsmoke, the other saloon owners, and ladies of the night. Also, the actresses, Doris Day and her sheep, and the women who cooked for the miners.
I enjoyed the post, Paty!

Celia Yeary said...

GIANT-Edna Ferber's epic novel of two generations of Texans on a sprawling ranch, made into a movie in 1956. Bick Benedict (Rock Hudson) and Leslie (Elizabeth Taylor) are the stars of the story, but it's James Dean, the two-bit land-owner of a small spread who pesters Bick, and he steals the show. He's the entrepreneur, the hotshot wildcatter who drills on his little patch of land, and hits it big.In later years, a friend said to Bick, "you should've shot him when you had the chance. Now, he's too rich to kill." NOTE: Jett Rink (James Dean) obtained his little patch of land from Bick's sister when she died. And the land was right in the middle of the Benedict ranch. Good topic, Paty. Celia Yeary

Kathy Otten said...

Interesting topic. I wonder how visionaries saw those posibilites where there didn't seem to be any. For my new unfinished novel I've been doing reasearch into the Indian Nations, specifically the town of McAlester. I needed a place for my H/H to stay and discovered the Elk House, the finest eating and sleeping estabishment in McAlester in the early days. It seems Edward and Lena Sittel and their children migrated from Hamburg,Germany to Baltimore in 1866. Edward took a job hunting game for the Katy railroad crew. When the RR came through the area he decided to stay and bought a tiny one room house. Over the next 30 years Edward and his wife converted the house into a 15 room hotel/resturant. They also ran a bakery and meat market, supplying meat for the Krebs mining camp and the railroad crews. Belle Starr even stayed there and was evidently a gifted pianist and used to play their piano.

Paty Jager said...

Thanks for stopping by, Lauri, Linda, Celia , and Kathy. Isn't research so much fun! I love it! Best part of writing a western I think.