This is a discussion thread. With the interest in the western contest and posts and crits of some of the stories after the contest, I thought it might be an idea if we kick around our ideas about writing westerns, writing short stories, and critting westerns - what works and what doesn't work so well.

Traditionally, by definition, a classic Western is set in the period from 1860 to 1890 in the American west (west of the Mississippi River). The time definition can be stretched to go back to the Alamo (1836) or up to the Mexican Revolution in 1920. Westerns are usually simple morality tales written about the period of exploration and development.

By definition a story has five main parts. A) Character - protagonist and maybe antagonist. B) Setting - time and place, local color, mood and atmosphere, even the weather. C) Plot - the events and character actions relating to the central conflict. Plot has a beginning, middle, and end - an introduction, rising action, climax, falling action, and final outcome. D) Conflict - without conflict there is no plot. Conflict can be external or internal. E) Theme - the central idea or belief.

Critiques come in several forms - line by line with all seen problems in the writing noted, shorter comments about specific sections / issues in a story (verb tenses, POV, information accuracy, etc.), overview comments of what worked and didn't work, general comments of like and dislike, suggestions for improvement - but not major rewrites. Critiques should be of the writing and not of the story - the author / poster knows what his or her story is about; readers may have different interpretations.

So, with those parameters as a basis, what are your thoughts about writing westerns, writing short stories, and critting western stories posted in SYW? Are your interests and expectations different from the classic definitions, did you stick to one or another of the basic parameters in picking your three top stories for the contest, what type of crit is most helpful for you as a writer, etc.

All thoughts welcome with the caveat "Respect your fellow writers". Puma