Among the various genres available to readers in fiction, the Western genre is one with the richest history. This is because of the genre’s setting and aesthetic. The Western genre encapsulates the sights and sounds of the Wild West, dating back to the early years of the United States. In this era, cowboys lassoed their way to justice, gunslingers ran amuck, and every challenging day was a story on its own.
Though, a great story doesn’t translate to a successful book without execution. To incorporate the “Western” element in your novel, you need to make sure your book is immersive, engaging, captivating, authentic, and tenacious. Today, we will be taking an enlightening retrospective, looking back at the greatest ever to do it —here are the best Western novel writers of all time!
Louis L’Amour: The Master Storyteller
We’re kicking off the list with arguably the most renowned Western author of all time, Louis L’Amour. Throughout L’Amour’s prestigious career, the world has witnessed 100 novels and 400 short stories, each exuding sheer storytelling prowess, relatable characters, and captivating action, keeping readers on the edge of their seats.
What set L’Amour’s work apart was his authentic and elaborate descriptions of the American West. The atmosphere he constructed was so immersive that one could almost smell the sagebrush in the air. He achieved this feat through rigorous research, which is necessary when working on an authentic historical piece of fiction.
The result? Over 300 million copies are sold worldwide. L’Amour’s most famous books include classics such as The Sackett Series and Hondo. But, perhaps L’Amour’s most significant contribution is his influence on new writers, setting an example of executing the genre with both graceful and relentless writing.
Zane Grey: The Father of Modern Western
You can’t list down the greatest Western novel writers of all time and not mention Zane Grey.
Grey was the genre’s hallmark, with 90 novels to his name. He is most notoriously known for Riders of the Purple Sage, a book considered a pivotal piece of Western literature that gave birth to many themes in the genre that we have come to know and love. The catalyst to Zane’s success as an author was that he took inspiration from real-life experiences, especially from those who lived on the frontier. Grey was responsible for penning together riveting narratives and larger-than-life characters. His novels were evergreen, which is why he is one of history’s most renowned Western authors.
Grey’s work incorporated a sense of moral ambiguity, leaving an open-ended perception of the characters. Nothing was ever black or white when it came to his book; there was always a bit of “grey” present. The beauty was in the complexities.
Larry McMurtry: The Pulitzer Prize Winner
Pulitzer Prize winner Larry McMurtry is considered the godfather of the Western genre, and for good reason. He is responsible for putting together novels that epitomize the power of good storytelling and crafty character writing. His portrayals of life at the frontier and the turmoil associated are incredibly engaging and captivating. Furthermore, Larry’s work has been mainly acknowledged for incorporating themes of love, life, loss, and the meaning of home.
He is best known for his work in Lonesome Dove, which is what earned him the prestigious Pulitzer Prize. People fell in love with characters Gus and Call and the rigorous journey that encapsulates the hardships faced in the Wild West era.
His books, Terms of Endearment and The Last Picture Show, are also incredibly written and demonstrate his best work.
Elmore Leonard: The Genre-Defying Author
Moving on to Elmore Leonard, who is particularly known for his thrillers and crime novels and whose work in the Western genre has resulted in some timeless classics!
Early into his career, Leonard was responsible for crafting some of the most engaging and intelligent works of Western fiction, with novels such as Valdez is Coming and The Bounty Hunters. His knack for penning impactful dialogue helped people realize that Western fiction is more than just showdowns, cowboys, and gunslinging.
Cormac McCarthy: The Dark Visionary
When we think of dark and nihilistic renditions of the Western novel spectrum, we immediately think of Cormac McCarthy. McCarthy’s incredible work in the Western genre explored the depths of human depravity and sheer violence.
Readers new to his work should begin with Blood Meridian and, of course, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Road, arguably McCarthy at his best.
Cormac’s work portrays the most brutal and gory vision of the West. This was particularly a breath of fresh air compared to the more romanticized renditions of Western fiction. McCarthy’s Westerns feature graphic violence and imagery, which is not for everyone. However, his grand vision and impactful prose have earned him a place among the most significant American Western novel writers of the 20th century. His ability to capture the raw beauty and harsh realities of the Western landscape has inspired countless authors and filmmakers to explore the genre in new and exciting ways.
Sharon Sala: Bringing Romance to the Wild West
Now, we have one of the most successful authors ever to grace the Western genre with her storytelling prowess. Sharon seamlessly blended the hardcore aesthetic of the West with romance, creating an infatuating concoction for readers of all backgrounds to enjoy.
Sharon has completed over 100 riveting titles and sets an example for new and old authors looking to delve into the genre.
Jedediah Ravine: The Future of Western Writing
Last but certainly not least, we have a new name in the Western genre, creating a buzz among new and old readers. Jedediah Ravine has set the bar high with one of the most authentic renditions of the genre. Wichita, U.S. Marshall is charming, gripping, and immersive; pretty much everything you would look for in a Western. Jedediah’s talents transcend the norms of what makes an author great in the modern world. For those who don’t know, Wichita, U.S. Marshall is also available in audiobook format, where we hear the story narrated through the wise voice of Jedediah Ravine himself. The author’s diligence and effort to make the book a read-through and an experience is truly remarkable.
Jedediah Ravine is the future of Western novel writing as we know it. If you wish to experience his work yourself, click the link now! Wichita U.S. Marshall is now available on Amazon.