Rebels on the Road

I love reading historical markers along the highway.  Last weekend I discovered a few rebels this way, while on a road trip to Albuquerque.  I was heading to Mystery Roundup, a get-together of mystery enthusiasts sponsored by the Croak and Dagger chapter of Sisters in Crime and the Rocky Mountain chapter of Mystery Writers of America.  Here are some rebel snippets that I picked up on the road:

  1. Cuerno Verde was a Comanche chief who was so ferocious that he even frightened the Utes with his rebel warfare.  He earned his Spanish nickname from wearing headgear with a green horn.
  2. With so many rebels afoot along the Santa Fe Trail, the U.S. government built Fort Union, starting in 1851.  Rattlesnakes still guard its impressive remains today, only a few miles off the interstate.
  3. A little farther down the road are other fascinating remains:  The Pueblos of the Pecos Valley were living in 5-story cities, enclosed by long, curving walls, when the Spaniards arrived in the 16th century.  Priests built their mission and church next to the Pueblos.  A century later, the Pueblos finally revolted, destroying the church.  When the Spaniards returned 12 years later, they built a much smaller church.  Lesson learned from the rebels?
  4. The Confederate rebels of the Civil War reached Old Town, Albuquerque to fight the western-most battle of the Civil War (as cited by our tour guide on the ghost tour).  Confederate ghosts still patrol the area.  Rebels die hard!
  5. Okay, aside from sightseeing, it was such fun to hang out with mystery writers and readers for the weekend.  My favorite quote is a little rebellious, too.  It comes from Steve Brewer, who was talking about “punchy writing.”  He advises writers to trim out all the unnecessary words.  A good rule of writing to follow, he says, is to “Start late, leave early.”

I’ve been thinking about this ever since, and I totally agree with Steve’s advice.  I love this quote.  For me, nothing ruins a book more than excessive preamble, padding, or when the book goes on and on, long after the story is done.  What do you think?  Is punchy, lean writing rebellious?

5 thoughts on “Rebels on the Road”

  1. Sounds like a fun trip, Sue. And the quote is fantastic. Yep, punchy writing is definitely the way to go. Don’t think it’s rebellious though, more like…good writing! Thanks for taking us along on your trip. I had no idea the Confederates made it to Albuquerque!


  2. I do agree with you and Steve. And my father would, too. I don’t mind a little wrap up and a little lead in, but when it goes on, and on, and on… Maybe arriving “fashionably late” and knowing when to make your exit is a little rebellious; we writers tend to love our words. But our readers probably appreciate a little rebellion.

    P.S.: Sounds like a fascinating trip. The Southwest is on my bucket list of “places to see some day.”


  3. Yes, it was a fun trip and fun Roundup. I love finding unexpected treasures! As for the ghosts… No worries, Cynthia, not everyone encounters them.


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