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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2 thoughts on “Tips for Writing Steampunk

  1. The Info Dump is the bane of my existence. The first draft of my latest novel literally had an entire chapter that was almost entirely description of the history, politics, and international relations of the novel’s world. I’ve found that if the Info Dump can be broken up into bite-sized bits and sprinkled about, it works out better. Especially, if you can show how the character relates to the info bit.

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    1. Yes! They are tricky and that’s a great strategy for dealing with them. Give the info to your reader as necessary throughout the story. I also love using it to develop your characters. Thanks for reading!

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