What genre is a story that takes place in 1882 in the Old West considered, a Western or Historical Fiction? It’s not one of those Cowboys and Indians or Cattlemen vs Sheepherders or Gunfighter type Western stories. It simply takes place in the Old West.

I would suppose it depends on the story itself. Probably Historical Fiction.

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Seeing as how WP only has a “Historical Fiction” genre and no “Western” genre, I think your choices for publishing it here are quite limited.

yeah i think technically a western is a sub-genre of historical fiction. there is a Western writers group on wattpad here:

I would recommend setting it to Historical Fiction in your genre, and then tagging Western in your tags. This way when people search both, your story will be there. Hope this helps :slight_smile:

@Nopester24 @brokenkingglassrose

I wasn’t talking about wattpad, but thanks. I was curious how the publishing industry would classify it. It was more curiosity than anything.

I have a hard time boxing a story in a genre.

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When I googled “historical fiction or western” the first result was “Historical Fiction Old West” with stories like “Lonesome Dove” and “The Revenant.” The second result was Goodreads with “Best Western Historical Fiction.” So the two genres were combined.

A little later, there was a Wikipedia on “Western Fiction” followed by one on “Historical Fiction.” According to wikipedia, Western fiction takes place in the Old West. Historical fiction takes place with a setting in the past. There seems to be an overlap. As someone very anal, overlaps and vagueness are disturbing. :slight_smile:

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Well, if I were planning to trad pub, I’d call it historical fiction, because western is currently a dead genre. If I were self pubbing, I would experiment to see on what shelves I got the best results.


Really good point. Thanks.

One article I read says:

The vast literature of the American Old West evolved from dime novels of the late 1800s which portrayed life on the frontier as an idealized clash pitting virtuous cowboys and lawmen against “savage” Indians or outlaw gunfighters. Classic “Westerns” by writers like Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour in the early to mid-twentieth century generally retained this romanticized approach, but most modern writers present a more realistic view of Western history.

That was my point when I said it’s not the typical “Cowboys and Indians” or “gunfighter” story. It just happens to take place in 1882 Old West (the reason being it needed to take place prior to the invention of artificial insemination). It’s about the relationships and conflicts among heterosexual, lesbian, and bisexual characters in that time period.

btw, for anyone interested, I came across an interesting article on Historical fiction by:

Sarah Johnson, currently Professor/Reference Librarian at Eastern Illinois University and book review editor for the Historical Novels Review , is the author of Historical Fiction: A Guide to the Genre (2005) and Historical Fiction II (2009).

This is from the article

Even if we can agree on a definition that historical fiction includes any works that are set, for example, more than 50 years in the past, whose past are we talking about – the reader’s past or the author’s past? Take, for example, The Great Gatsby , written in 1925, and set during the same time period. To us, today, the novel is obviously set in our historical past. But does it fit what we think of as “historical fiction”?

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Sounds awesome. I would love to read westerns that weren’t romanticized views.

Haha. But would you call it a Western? Or would you even pick it off the shelf if it was in the Western section? (those were rhetorical)

One thing I read was that to be Historical Fiction the author must do research for the time period. So “The Great Gatsby” would not be Historical. Another was that to be Historical, it must include real characters and/or events from the time period. Again, that requires research. I researched things like clothing and outhouses, but it’s a fictional place and fictional characters. There is some mention of the Irish land wars during that time period, but everything else is not real.

But to your point, if Historical Fiction sells better than Westerns, it’s a no-brainer.

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On that case what I said holds true, but there’s a definite market for Westerns