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Tuesday’s Trail Notes

Mile 20: Visit Locations

My last entry was about locations, especially the importance of accuracy if you’re writing about a real place that is readily researched. With this entry, I’m going to suggest you visit as many of those locations as possible. Most Westerns take place in the western half of the United States, which means if you live

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Mile 19: Locations

As you’re writing your novel, you’ve already come to realize something: it’s got to take place somewhere. The question is — where? There are really two options available to you as you pick the location(s) for your novel. First, and this is the most challenging, write about a real place. For those of us who

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Mile 18: Author or Writer?

Mile 18 may not help you write your first Western, but it might help you when talking to friends. When I first started writing, I wasn’t sure what to call myself — writer, author or candlestick maker. Somehow, in my head, author seemed more “serious,” more “literary,” than I felt my writings were. Writer seemed,

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Mile 17: Character Names

By now, hopefully, you have written or at least started your first chapter. Congratulations! If you have, you have probably run into an interesting challenge: creating your characters’ names. Allow me to share with you that it’s not always as easy as it seems. For me, it has been quite a bit of work, but

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Mile 16: Ernest Hemingway on Writing

There are a number of ways to improve your writing. The most important is to write. Write often. Write when it’s hard. Write more when it’s easy. But write. After that, we can look to experts who have been kind enough to share their wisdom and allow us to benefit from their mistakes and lessons

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Mile 15: 10 Louis L’Amours

I’m following up on the previous entry, “The Importance of First Chapters,” and writing about a specific author: Louis L’Amour. Historically, L’Amour has been my favorite Western author, and I wind up rereading all 100-plus of his Westerns about once every five years. I got to wondering about what draws me back to his books,

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Mile 14: Importance of First Chapters

I recently took an online class on writing fiction by James Patterson. It’s offered as part of the MasterClass program. Mine was a gift from my son. Thanks, Justin! While I’ll do an entire post on the class somewhere down the trail, I do want to mention one thing that Patterson highlighted now. I’m paraphrasing,

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Mile 13: Surround Yourself

As I started to write this particular Trail Notes, I found myself kicking around a couple of different ideas. As I often do when I’m thinking about writing, I found myself looking around my office, and I realized this week’s topic was right in front of me. In fact, it’s all around me. I’m staring

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Mile 12: The Team

You’ve started to write, which is great! Hopefully, you’ve moved beyond the first line and maybe even written a chapter or two. Writing can be, and usually is, a very solitary process. If you were writing a diary, or a journal, it would theoretically be designed to stay private. But you’re not. You’re writing a

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Mile 11: Stephen King

Stephen King’s book on writing is called, you guessed it, “On Writing.” Some consider it a classic of the “writers helping other writers” genre. I don’t actually know if that’s a genre, but it should be, and King’s book is a good one. While he’s best known for his horror, fantasy and supernatural books, none

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