Gooooooood morning, Seekerville!
I wrote this post back in 2009, just before I got The Call! It has always been a fun favorite because writing cowboy books is a level of fun unto itself. I could be happy all my days just writing cowboys and lawmen. If that sounds lame, well... sigh.... I'll own it! There's something rugged, strong and measurably loyal about both professions. But Rodeo Stew is more than just good, cowboy fun. It's a solid recipe analogy for how to put a good, strong book together! Comments are off for today, giving us all more time to write, polish and think about our very own version of "Rodeo Stew".
Take the meat of one cowboy…
Now cowboy meat comes in all shape and sizes. Most cowboys aren’t six feet tall and 190 lbs. Just sayin’.
They can be rangy. Tough. Muscled. Arrogant. Antagonistic. I mean, seriously, how freakin’ friendly would YOU be after getting kicked around and embarrassed by a 1500 lb. animal whose rankings rise depending on how mean and ornery they are and how fast they KICK YOUR BUTT? I might be a little testy, too.
Even the nicest cowboy can use a little tenderizing. Toss in some sweet talk, followed by two cups of sexual tension. Heck, the only action this guy’s seen for months on the circuit is the dirt floor of the arenas. Let’s lighten him up a little. Give him something to think about, pray about at Cowboy Church.
Add pretty girl.
Now I’ve read novels without pretty girls. I’ve read overweight, really plain, positively witchy and stuck on themselves heroines.
Soooooo not a fan. There’s a reason romance heroines are attractive. We ALL want to be attractive to our mates. That’s like the basic law of survival. If we’re not attractive to them, we’ll never procreate, end of story, end of species. Simple, really.
Pretty girl does NOT have to be a cowgirl. Might be better if she’s not because despite what George Strait sings, a good balance can be had by mixing careers and goals, thus ripening the stew stockpot with TENSION and INTERNAL CONFLICT. Talk about adding pepper! Yee Haw! We’re startin’ to ride high now!
It never hurts to throw in a good horse…
There’s something about a man in the saddle that puts us in mind of… Dare I say it here?????
God’s eternal wisdom!
Grinning. Couldn't resist.
Toss in a crooked smile or a rakish grin, one or two “Ma’am’s” and you’ve got juices flowing. Oh my, why on earth don’t they make more Westerns???? Are ya’ kiddin’ me?
Horse can be any color, but should be an old and trusted friend OR a new recruit, a bit skittish, reflecting hero’s inner turmoil or heroine’s discomfort at finding herself in cowboy land.
Good stew needs potatoes…
Now I’m Irish, so I’m a big fan of potatoes. Boil ‘em, mash ‘em, fry ‘em, bake ‘em. I haven’t met a potato I didn’t like.
The potatoes in your stew are your secondary characters. They can be red, white, yellow, brown, thin-skinned or thick, meaty or slim, any shape or size, young or old, or a mix of the above. Potatoes differentiate the plot, building the sauce with natural starch. They provide a filling interlude that bridges the gap between the meat and the gravy. Or boy and girl.
Don’t skimp on potatoes, but leave plenty of room for meat and gravy interaction. Sometimes the meat will hide behind the potatoes. That’s okay, as long as the gravy (girl) finds the meat eventually. Draws him out of his hard-workin’ cowboy shell.
Sometimes the gravy spurns the meat. Well, that just means the meat ain’t puttin’ forth enough effort. A good piece of meat (I cannot tell you how much fun I’m having with this analogy. Seriously. Writing a blog should never be THIS MUCH FUN!!!!) knows how to seek the gravy, dabble a bit. Heighten the gravy’s awareness. There are many ways to do this, depending on your target market. This crucial step allows the gravy latitude to mingle with the meat, melding flavors.
Ah. Yes. I’m a big fan of melding, aren’t you?
Throw in a honkin’ big bull…
He bucks, he heaves, he bellows, he careens around, tail switching, testicles strapped.
The bull is your external conflict, what everyone sees. Man wants to ride bull, bull wants to kill man or at least relieve himself of those straps. Let me just say “OUCH” again. External conflict should be apparent, just like it is with the bull. There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind (recall Mary’s words yesterday, that if people don’t ‘get’ your story, it really is your fault because they need you to guide them through things you may just know) what your external conflict is. The bull is what keeps the hero and heroine apart.
He wants her ranch, she’d die before selling.
He knows Georgia peaches aren’t tough enough to handle the Texas Hill country, she faces her nemesis to prove him wrong.
She knows cowboys are nefarious lotharios from past family experience, his past makes her look totally on target.
Cook for approximately 250 pages at increasing temperatures…
Stew should never be eaten tepid. Raising temps raises the stakes. And good stew is only made better by forcing the H/H and the reader a little cooling-off time. It’s too hot to eat, everyone will get burned…
Enter black moment.
Take a chill.
Smooth things out.
Show them the error of their ways, the path toward the end you’ve been priming readers for since page one.
Enjoy your dinner!!!!
We’ve gotten to the HEA we’ve been waiting for, hoping for. If you’ve done your work well, no one really expected you to be able to bridge those gaps so smoothly, without lame intervention, but you did! A good gravy makes all the difference!
I've got some fresh baked bread and sweet churned butter to go with our stew. Gallons of coffee. I'd love to see how your 'stew' comes together, ladies and gents. Doff those cowboy hats, step up to the mike and give Seekerville a glimpse of how your hero is the prime component in a great pot of stew!
"Rodeo Stew" was first published by then unpublished Ruth Logan Herne on 6/11/09. She was a snark then... and not much has changed. :) Ruthy loves to write warm, heart-touching inspirational fiction and you can find her on facebook or twitter, her website or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org... Or stop by the Yankee Belle Cafe where Ruthy and a bunch of Seekerville buds hang out making delicious things while talking romance and ... maybe... stew. :)
And Ruthy and Mia Ross have JUST RELEASED a fun, affordable duo! Ribbons & Roses is available now for your Kindle or device with a Kindle app! Ruthy's written a fun, return-to-Kirkwood-Lake novella, and we get to revisit the CAMPBELL Family!!!! And all those hunky lawmen! Sweet!
Here's the Link for Ribbons & Roses!