Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Gunfighters, gunslingers, shooters, gunmen, highway men, outlaws, they had many names, but the thing they had in common was snubbing the law, either by robbing or killing.
Most books allege the shootouts in the streets were invented by Hollywood. That doesn’t mean the men with several notches on their pistol handles didn’t kill. They did, just not in the flourishing style as movies depict. There were shootouts, but they didn’t stand in the middle of the street and usually more innocent victims were claimed than the outlaws. And they have the gunslinger dressed as a cowboy. He would be dressed just like any other person of the area he inhabited. He didn’t come from any one social station. Only when they openly carried a pistol would they catch anyone’s attention. Most gunmen were quiet and blended in. Surprise was their best weapon. To catch their intended victim by surprise and therefore have the upper hand.
A real shooter didn’t get drawn into a shootout. The odds weren’t on his side if the person was ready and willing to shoot. He preferred to shoot when his opposition least expected it. The fast draw is also something that came about in movies.
Some gunmen started as lawmen and others moved from gunmen to lawmen. How they went one way or the other would make for good character traits in a hero or villain. Their best friend was their gun in parts of the country where there was no law and order. Though most movies and novels depict shootouts in the street with several people on each side, most shootouts were typical of the old-time duels-one against one. And where the sword duels were won on skill the gun duels were won by the person who could get the drop on the opponent. If it meant shooting him when he flinched and wasn’t really going for his gun- so be it.
Most stories about famous outlaws are just that- stories. The amount of people they killed have been embellished and for some reason the general public doesn’t care. They like the myth, the legend of the outlaw.
And you'll notice I tend to have outlaws as the villains in my books because they have been so glorified they make great characters. I can see why Hollywood took an otherwise boring and face it unlikable person and made them characters people want to see and boo.
My latest release, Outlaw in Petticoats, has a couple of bad guys that make your skin crawl but if the hero and heroine didn't have the bad guys pulling them apart how will they realize how much they love one another?
Here's an excerpt from OIP and Thank you for stopping by!
A nicker and the click of a hammer being pulled back
on a pistol, snapped Zeke awake. He rolled toward Maeve.
The flat, rough blanket smacked his body. He shot to his
feet, taking in the scene of an angry, frightened Maeve
being passed between several men.
“Let go of her!” he shouted, disregarding the gun
pointed at him and diving into the melee. He grasped
Maeve, pushing her behind him as he backed away from
the group. “Keep your hands off my wife,” he said in a low,
commanding voice and stared at each man, defying them
to take a step toward him. There was only one who
compared to him in size. The rest were average men. But
they all had guns pointed at him except for the man with
long, blonde hair and a sneer.
“We didn’t know she was your property,” said the
unarmed man, pushing his way through the five men
smirking like they were ready to take him.
Maeve took offense to being called property. It was
bad enough Zeke kept calling her his wife. The men had
pulled her from the blanket and a deep sleep, but she now
had all her faculties working. She slipped her pistol from
the holster and aimed it at the man who’d called her
“I’m no man’s property.” She stepped from behind
Zeke and heard his exasperated sigh as she pointed the
gun at the man in the front of the pack.
“That so.” The man grinned and stepped closer.
Zeke put out his arm to keep her from moving ahead
of him. She shot him a sideways glance. The twitch in his
jaw proved he was just a tad bit upset with her. She
smiled. He had to learn she didn’t belong to anyone. Not
even him. Her mother taught her a long time ago, she
couldn’t rely on anyone.
“We’re just on our way to Boyd and don’t plan on
causing you boys any trouble,” Zeke said, again pushing
her behind him.
She shook her head, planted her feet, and kept the
pistol aimed at the man, now standing half way between
them and the others.
“I don’t plan no trouble.” The man spread his hands
and smiled a disarming smile. “Fellas, put your guns
away.” The men with the guns aimed at Zeke scowled, but
they dropped the muzzles of their rifles to the ground.
She studied the man edging closer. He was a good ten
years older than Zeke and not nearly as handsome, but
still not hard to look at.
“If you aren’t looking for trouble, why did your
friends handle my wife?” Zeke’s accusing tone did little to
wipe the smile from the man’s face.
“They were just having a little fun.”
“Did that feel like fun to you?” Zeke turned and asked
She narrowed her eyes and glared at the intruder.
“No, I wouldn’t call that fun.” She scanned the group
gathered behind the man. They were all grinning like
they were about to get a gift. She wasn’t it.
“I’m tired of every man who gets within arm’s reach,
grabbing me. The next one is getting a bullet in them.” To
make them see her point, she squeezed the trigger,
shooting at the ground between the closest man’s feet.