If you write either contemporary or historical Western romances then you know how difficult it is to create authentic cowboys who "talk the walk."
I write contemporary cowboy stories so my heroes are fairly educated, but I love to throw in a few quirky characters—usually geezers—who are throwbacks to the "olden days." In order to make those characters realistic to my readers I turn to two of my favorite books: Cowboy Slang and Cowboys Talk Right Purdy by Edgar "Frosty" Potter.
One reason I have my secondary characters use colorful language is that their phrases conjur up word pictures, which add humor to my writing—most of my readers expect a little "cowboy" humor in my books. Here are a few examples of phrases from "Frosty's" book that trigger word pictures in the reader's mind.
"A man that straddles a fence usually has a sore crotch."
"His hoss throwed him forked-end up."
"She didn't wear 'nough clothes to dust a fiddle."
Below are some of my favorite Cowboy Sayings:
Blind: So blind he couldn't see through a bobwire fence.
Big: As broad beamed and cow-hocked as a Holstein's behind.
Braggart: He was full of wind as a bull in corn time.
Bronc Rider: I got throwed so high I could've said my prayers before I lit.
Courting: Thet little feller with a bow an' arrer can shore bugger up a cowboy.
Dead: He'd saddled a cloud an' rode to the great beyond.
Drunk: He drank so much hair oil he had to eat moth-balls to keep down the fur.
Dumb: He couldn't hit a bull's ass with a banjo.
Fighting: I squirted 'nough lead into him to make it a payin' job to melt him down.
Religion: Most of his religion was in his wife's name.
Swearing: He could make a bull-whacker's cussin' sound like a Methodist sermon.
Do you have a memorable line one of your characters has said...or have you read a book with a character whose language and words made him or memorable?
Roughneck Cowboy (Feb 2011)
Rodeo Daddy (April 20110)