Tips for Writing Steampunk

So we’ve had an ongoing series on tips for writing different genres. Today, I’d like to close that series with a brief write-up for tips on writing steampunk. Steampunk is a newer genre compared to the others we’ve talked about, but is enjoying great popularity for its visual aesthetics and fun plots. Let’s look at some quick tips.

  • Read in the genre. As always, the best way to understand and emulate a genre is to read widely in it. There’s a ton of different things you can do with steampunk, it’s all about innovativeness and genre smashing, but that can make it tricky to figure out what, in fact, to do. Figure out what works and what doesn’t by reading steampunk novels. Discover the conventions and tropes and archetypal characters. And figure out how the technology works, so you can incorporate it seamlessly into your own work.
  • Worldbuilding and setting are super important for steampunk. The setting should be like a character unto itself. Spend time getting to know and crafting your story world. How does the technology work? Is it set in Wild West times or Victorian times? How do people dress? Travel? What do they do for fun? Discover the intricacies of your world and describe the details. Here are some tips for worldbuilding here.
  • Your setting will be in a different time period than modern day. Your technology will also be vastly different. Gone are combustible engines. Instead we imagine steam based and cog based technology. You’ll need to do research to get these details right and bring your story to life. Even though this is an imagining of the world, it still needs to be believable and realistic. Especially pay attention to the visual aesthetics of steampunk. The genre is known for it. So what do your characters’ dresses look like? Their airships? Nail this for a stronger story. Images will be your friend as you research.
  • Don’t info dump. You may need to know a bit to figure out how to get your airship to fly, but your reader doesn’t need to know all that technical jargon and facts. Same with the information regarding the time period your story is set in. Only include information that moves your story forward or develops your characters. Sprinkle in details to give yourself a rich setting and story world, but don’t go overboard. Serve the story, always.

This is a fun genre and I definitely encourage you to jump in and try it. Read a few books to get an idea of conventions and go wild. Happy writing!

Julia

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Tips for Writing Historical Fiction

We’ve been talking writing different genres in this series. Today I wanted to take a look at historical fiction. Now historical fiction can seem really daunting with its attention to detail and accuracy, but it’s a tangible goal to reach, just like any other genre. Let’s look at some tips for writing historical fiction.

  • Read in your genre. I know I say this every time, but it’s because it works. You’ll get the idea of how to write in an authentic, accurate voice and how to weave in facts seamlessly without an info dump. It will help you determine what works and what doesn’t work for historical fiction. Make sure to read books in the time period you want to write in as well.
  • Write about universal themes. This will help your modern day audience to relate to the past in a significant way. Finding yourself, finding love, and making friends are all things we can still understand, no matter the time period. Connect to your audience with theme.
  • Facts can bog down your story. Yes, you should do research and yes, you want to be accurate in your details, but not at the expense of the story. Avoid info dumps at all cost. And weigh which facts are important and which ones are just extraneous. You need to do a ton of research for your story, but not all of that then gets put in. Only the information that carries the story forward.
  • Don’t go down the research rabbit hole. Have a plan for what you need to know and stick to it. Otherwise you’ll be distracted and follow a bunch of tangents, finding yourself up at 3 in the morning after a five hour blackout. Set aside specific time to research each week, separate from writing time, and stick to your plan. If you find you need to research something while you’re writing, type in [rabbit] and keep going. Later, use the control F feature to search for all of your [rabbit]s and do the research when it’s time to.
  • Organize your research. Use apps like Evernote or Scrivener, use binders, use Pinterest. Whatever it takes to keep track of everything you’ve learned so you can access it easily when you need to. This is a bit of work up front, but saves you time in the end.
  • Show, don’t tell. Especially those facts you spent hours researching and are now trying to cram into your story. Now is not the time to info dump. Immerse your readers into the story world and evoke all five senses, not just sight. If you’re finding it’s too awkward to include a detail or fact, don’t try to force it in. You want your story to read naturally. Don’t bore your reader with too many facts.
  • Once you have enough research done to get started, start writing. Don’t use research as an excuse to procrastinate. The point is to write.

So get started! What are your best tips for writing historical fiction? Share below and happy writing!

Julia

Follow me on Twitter and find me on Facebook for weekly prompts.