The western genre spans over two centuries if you go back to colonial times when a western story took place west of the Appalacians. Even science fiction stories can take place in the West like the movie “Cowboys and Aliens” and the TV series “The Wild Wild West.” Here are twenty prompts that might help writers come up with great western stories and books.
(1) THE PHANTOM OF THE UNION PACIFIC This is a book idea that I have written a few chapters for on the internet. A man from Newgate, New York moves out to Denver, Colorado to work for the Union Pacific as a security agent. Since he is from Newgate he has advanced technology that allows him to get his name.
On his way out from Kansas City which he teleports to from Newgate, he stops a train robbery and a bank robbery which prompts Jay Gould to give him reward money and hires him to be a security agent in 1880.
On his first day on the job he rides on the gold coin delivery train out of Denver and stops the robbery of the gold. Since he has a transporter, he is able to teleport to the silver coin delivery train. He is seen by a man who was supposed to unload the gold coins but the train passed him by. When he sees the agent on the silver coin delivery train he asks him if he is some sort of a phantom. He says, “Yes. And I’m going to haunt you for the rest of your miserable life.”
The agent meets various famous people and since he is from Newgate he encounters demon wolves in the Sierra Nevadas. His friend who came out to Denver from Newgate marries a Chinese woman whose father treated him with acupuncture needles. In one of the chapters, he meets and falls in love with a woman who was raised by Indians. After he marries her and goes to church picnics with his friend and her Chinese wife, they eat alone as the rest of the congregation shuns them. But in the fall of 1880, the man’s friend kept Denver from going to war with the Chinese citizens of the city.
The book is a mixture of science fiction with history and what you expect in a western book. I hope to write it within the next few years. It might make a good series on SyFy.
(2) COUNTERFEITING THE REAL THING A man who used to work in the Denver mint starts a private mint on the border of California and Nevada who does both silver and gold mining which he melts to form coins of his own design. They are used as currency and prove to be collectables that make the real coins seem fake because the man’s coins are more beautiful. The mint owners and the federal government want to shut the man down.
(3) THE LAND OF THE FREE Former slaves found a community in Wyoming where Indians are welcome to become citizens. But the white population feels threatened that a community made of former slaves and Native Americans might succeed.
(4) BEYOND THE PRICE OF GOLD In Arkansas a man finds a 10-carat diamond which causes him to start a diamond mine about a decade after the Civil War. He has to hire workers which are Indians and former slaves and fight against former Confederates and Indian-haters. He also has to bring the diamonds he finds to Dallas and New York and Chicago and New Orleans without having them stolen from the curriers.
(5) IN THE FAMILY WAY A doctor who is also a midwife delivers babies out West.
(6) BLACK INDIAN A black man joins an Indian tribe after escaping a plantation shortly before the Civil War. He has to fight Confederates and after the war, federal troops. He even has to fight buffalo soldiers to defend the ones he has lived with for years.
(7) AND THE KILLING CONTINUES A former marksman in the Union Army sells his services as a hired gun to those that either need personal protection or need someone killed.
(8) BUFFALO RANCHER During the 1880’s a rancher who lost his herd of beef cattle one winter decides to raise buffalo instead of cattle.
(9) THE DEVIL’S GUNSMITH A gunsmith goes out West to make guns that become the prefered shooting irons of criminals.
(10) BEAR KILLER A bear hunter hires himself out to ranchers and miners that need protection from bears. He also goes after legendary grizzlies from Colorado to Alaska between 1875 and 1905.
(11) HEART OF GOLD A prostitute from New Orleans becomes a devoted Christian who wants to spread the Gospel to prostitutes in the West and needs to fight against sex slavery and those that frequent prostitutes.
(12) DRESSING THE SAVAGES A tailor goes out West to start a tailor shop to make clothes for anyone be they poor farmers or wealthy investors. He also makes specialty clothing for various clients like a gunslinger who wants steel plates sewn into his vests and jackets.
(13) SATISFYING THIRSTS A man starts a distillery out West to produce alcoholic beverages for thirsty saloon goers.
(14) FROZEN HELL A miner discovers gold in the Sierra Nevadas during the fall and decides to stay during the winter and dig out as much gold as he can. He will either strike it rich or freeze to death if he isn’t killed by animals or claim jumpers.
(15) COOKIE A cook on a cattle drive survives an Indian attack and is spared because he is considered useful because he knows how to prepare food. He is also able to hunt and fish and prepare what he kills. He becomes a member of the tribe and is given the name that is translated as the preparer of food. He becomes a fugitive from justice as he accompanies the tribe to Canada.
(16) GUNSMOKE: THE TURN OF THE CENTURY Marshall Dillon’s former deputy Chester becomes a rancher out in Colorado and discovers both gold and oil on his property which attracts members of the Black Hand out in New York to come out there to take the land. He falls for his friend Matt Dillon to take on the criminals in 1901.
(17) RAILROADED A rich man starts his own private railroad which he has built to connect with the transcontinental railroad and his city of Millerville. But can he help his city survive?
(18) NO MAN’S LAND A group of women start their own community in Colorado and need to fight off men who think they can take advantage of them.
(19) THE TROUPE A troupe of entertainers toured the West from 1875 to 1900.
(20) THE MODERN CRIMINAL A man from Brooklyn, New York comes out to California in 1890 and forms a criminal operation that rivals the power of the Mafia on the East Coast.
These are some interesting story and book ideas that go beyond conventional westerns. I hope they can become reality. Good luck.