Don’t forget to bring the heat to your writing today. Today’s writing prompt is about scorched-earth practices in the Wild, Wild West. See the full writing prompt and my completed version of the prompt called, Annie’s Gang: The Beginning, in today’s post.

Today’s Writing Prompt: Scorched Earth in the Wild, Wild West

The Wild West days in the United States (circa– late 1800s) are often romanticized in fiction and on the silver screen. The “tough” cowboys and outlaws are often celebrated, especially if they shun the law. But such “wild” times were often quite brutal and entailed scorched-earth practices, where enemies were vanquished, no matter who they were, the cost, the law, or who had to die.

Today, write about a character who lives in the Wild West era and encounters a scorched-earth way of life. Before you start writing, it might be helpful to consider: Who is this character? Where are they from or going? Did they initiate the scorched-earth practice or way of life? Or are they running from one? …

To get your creativity flowing today, you might want to check out Rebels, Renegades, and Radicals: Ladies of the West, shared by the New York Public Library.

Keep scrolling to see my completed version of this writing prompt.

Annie’s Gang: The Beginning, by K.E. Creighton

Annie tipped the point of her Colt toward Marshal Masterson, who was on horseback, casually approaching the small campsite.

Masterson was never in a rush because things always came to him. He always took what he wanted. And left the rest, mostly dead. The world always seemed to open up for him … or he made sure it did. Until that day–the day he tried to take on Annie and her gang of outlaws.

Annie would have recognized that bright blue striped shirt anywhere. And those shiny boots. Because he was the only one with enough gold and silver for such garb within a hundred miles. On account of the fact that he took it all by robbing all the folks in and near Deadwood. He always said he was collecting bounty fees. Or taxes. Or recouping stolen property.

But Annie and her gang knew the truth. He was the thief. He was the outlaw who hid behind a badge.

Over her dead body was he going to take her family’s gold mine. Not now. Not ever. They might be a jury-rigged family. But they were hers. And she was theirs. They depended on her. And they did all the work together, to make this mine what it was.

So, if she had to take the marshal out, so be it. He hadn’t sweat and bled for anything in his entire life. And she’d be damned if she sat by and starved to death while he gorged himself on what was hers and her family’s. The rest of the town might be fooled by his schemes. But not her.

The marshal slowed his mustang to a trot. He was less than fifteen feet away from where she stood. She lifted the revolver slightly higher as he got closer, keeping the center of his forehead in her sight.

“Now, Annie, that’s no proper greetin’ for the law,'” Masterson chuckled as he dismounted and started moseying up to where she was standing.

“Well, I don’t remember askin’ for your company. Nor your crooked laws or ways, ” she responded, calm and steady.

It was dawn then and the smoke from the dying fire in the center of the camp was pluming behind her. That’s why Masterson didn’t realize they weren’t alone. Until long after the first shot was fired.

It had only been a warning shot that started it all.

Bill had fired one off into the sky from behind a nearby boulder to get Masterson to back up, away from Annie and their camp. He was getting a lot closer than Bill liked. Way too close.

After Annie had shown him what Masterson was all about yesterday, Bill was not going to let this hypocrite bully the town or take charge of their new gold mine. No sir. She had shown him Masterson’s secret shed full of the town’s wares he had confiscated, supposedly “in the name of the law.” And at that moment Bill could not rid the image of plunder from his mind. Or his scorching rage.

Yet Marshal Masterson never knew that Annie hadn’t taken a shot at him that day. Or that they weren’t alone in the camp. Because what happened next changed the course of history forever…

[All Rights Reserved by K.E. Creighton and Creighton’s Compositions LLC. The above work is a piece of fiction. All names and locations referred to are the product of the author’s imagination and are used entirely for fictional purposes. Any similarities to real-life persons or places are purely coincidental.]

Notes on Completing this Writing Prompt

This was an interesting writing prompt for me to complete. I have never been a fan of westerns or Wild West narratives. They were always ridiculously macho and needlessly violent to me and bored me to tears. However, when the real history of the Wild West is uncovered— the real history that includes women and indigenous groups and others who aren’t usually represented in Wild West tropes—things get more interesting and believable. And, after considering women as prominent characters, I became more engaged as I wrote about it.

If you complete this writing prompt, be sure to share your draft with members of our writing community. We’d love to read it! Be sure to tag #DailyDraftsAndDialogues and @kecreighton on Medium, WordPress, or Facebook, so we can read what you write for this writing prompt. Get creative! Let’s see how many different versions of this prompt can be written.

My Current Reads and Book Reviews

I recently finished Upgrade by Blake Crouch. Here’s the review of the novel that I shared on my GoodReads page.

This novel makes you ask yourself: If you could genetically engineer the world in order to save it, would you? In what way? What genes would you modify? And who and what would you be up against?

One of my favorite quotes from the book is on page 320: “‘You can’t kill humanity to save humanity. Human beings are not a means to an end.'”

Crouch did an excellent job of detailing genetics (seriously, bravo!) and there were some exciting scenes that made the book engaging and easy to get through quickly. I just wanted to connect to the main character more, especially on such a harrowing journey, and just found myself not caring about them much in the end. That’s why I rated it 3 stars out of 5. However, I would recommend this book to readers who are more plot-driven and like quick reads about interesting concepts! They will likely rate it 5+ stars. And overall, the book does posit interesting ideas and concepts worth considering!

Last week’s writing prompts on Daily Drafts & Dialogues

In case you missed them, here are the links to last week’s writing prompts:

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