Thursday, April 22, 2010

"Down Here In Texas"

originally posted at Serendipitous Surplus,, ok I admit it,, I might be a little lazy today..

“Down Here In Texas” It has been over twenty years since I first met these fellows. Do you ever get tired of hearing someone from another country or state proclaim, “Well, the way we do it back in,,,Ya Ya Ya”. Well, I don’t know any other way to put it. Down here in Texas, which comes from the Indian word Tejas, meaning “friendly people”, if ya like somebody, it usually lasts. It don’t mean you have to like ‘em right off. Ya kinda have to sit back and see if they are going to be all “hat” and no “cattle”. Don’t usually take too long. Not what a person says, but what they do, will wind up telling the tale.

What? Hell, no. They ain;t real people. They are made up. Larry McMurtry made ‘em up. Yep, but you know what? They are as fresh 'n gritty in my mind as the dust they stirred up going from Texas to Montana. Cap’em Gus McCrae and Cap’em Woodrow Call. I ain’t trying to “hawk” this book. The Pulitizer Prize has already done that. If ya haven’t already and don’t want to read it, knock ya’ self out. I won’t suffer from that. I already read it and watched the movie several times. One of those times was a long weekend and my youngest daughter was home from school. At my insistence, she watched it with us. It was her first time to see it. She had not read the book at that time. Not going to tell you how it ends but she looked at me with tears in her eyes and paid me a compliment.

“Daddy, you are a combination of Gus and Call rolled up in one.”

At first, I took it as a compliment, but “The Boss let out a grunt and a groan, with a roll of her eyes, which threw me into a state of wondering. I wondered if it was Gus’s charming ways or Call’s steel rod stubbornness she might have been thinking about. That still ain’t the point. The point is some writers can paint such a clear picture of who the characters are. Gus and Call and all the other members of the The Hat Creek Cattle Company came to life on the pages. You could “hear” what they were thinking.“The Last Picture Show” was the first in a series of four, (I think there were only four, well Rino Ranch might make five), but the characters lived their whole lives throughout these books.

I am not sure how McMurtry does it. I read his books. I re-read with just the intent of sneaking a peek at how he does it. I still can’t see a definite formula for his method, but something works.If I could paint just a fraction of the degree of character believability that McMurtry does, then ,, nope I would try to do a little better, but at least I would have the satisfaction that I was progressing. I see these characters in some of your writing out there. I take enjoyment in those characters and I hope you don’t mind if I look at them and say.

“What are those characters thinking?”


  1. I think you have the technique down!

  2. My father really enjoyed reading McMurty's books. I agree with Eva. You do know how to make your characters come alive on the page.

  3. Indeed you do, Glenn. Your characters come quickly to life in the stories I've read. I'll have to revisit "Lonesome Dove" to see if I can figure out what your daughter and the Boss saw.

  4. I've never read McMurty. Now I need to.

  5. You are already a great writer,here's a pat on the back! I'm not much of a book reader but I have watched Lonesome Dove many times. Love,love,love Gus and Call,they were what friends are all about.

  6. Each of us have different perspectives and our experiences are as varied as our characters. That's why we all read each other! But I imagine you look at mine and think, "What the bleep was she thinking?", not the characters :)

  7. I haven't read the book, saw the movie and loved it..course Woodrow and Gus are about the two good lookinest cowboys that ever strapped a spur on in my book, 'cept my hubby, a course. He makes a pretty fair cowboy..and I won't let him cowboy up to go to town..No cowboy hats..NO!!!
    But...that Blue Duck bout scared me to death, and the one scene with the little boy sickened me.
    keep on writing..
    we enjoy it..

  8. I know what you mean. I'm not sure exactly what the difference in in character development or how they do it. OR, my god, how they sustain it! I sure would like to know.

    If you figure it out, Glenn, let me know. You're on your way! I've got a coupla your characters living in my head.


  9. Oh I have missed you my friend, so good to be back reading your is good.
    ...........:-) Hugs

  10. "Gus’s charming ways or Call’s steel rod stubbornness" - right on. My favorites: Gus's funny attachment to the pigs and Call's charge on the officer that hurts Newt. "I hate a rude man. Won't tolerate it." Amazing book.

    Another gem:

    Call: We come to this place to make money. They wasn't nothin' about fun in the deal.
    Gus: What are you talkin' about? You don't even like money. You like money even less than you like fun, if that's possible.

    Thinking of chiming in on the story, but scared! I haven't done any fictional writing since 2nd grade :)