The genre-mashing nature of Steampunk, with its blend of historical fiction, sci fi, fantasy and even the paranormal makes for some unique challenges for writers.

Do you get lost in the world-building and forget to create 3D characters?

Do you create 3D characters but lack the richness of descriptive details that readers of Steampunk expect and get off on?

Does the empiric nature of the Victorian world worry you, or provide grist to the mill?

Share your challenges and let others know they're not alone!

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The worst problem I've found is not the writing itself, but the relatively obscure nature of the genre. At least in Canada, there's hardly any recognition of steampunk as a form of literature. In children's & YA writing, the situation is a little different, but as far as adult writing is concerned steampunk (along with most non-Lit genres) is completely ignored. What review venues still exist amongst newspapers and other media generally would never, ever, consider a steampunk novel worthy of review. (Obviously there are a few small SF & steampunk media that are the exceptions).
I face two problems when writing. The first is having to explain what I am writing to people who not only dont read fantasy or Steampunk, but dont read for pleasure in the first place. But then they dont know why I enjoy writing Fantasy either.
I enjoy a mash up of Steampunk and Dark Fantasy, I love the addition of magic and horror elements to the Steampunk Aesthetic. And knowing when to STOP adding things to my worlds becomes troublesome. In the setting where I spend most of my time, I have enough added detail for probably three complete settings. I finally had to stop, I force myself to simply collect all those kewl ideas, and from time to time a new, fully realized setting pops into my head begging for life.

Since I'm not writing in the Victorian world, things are a bit different, but I find I have trouble putting all the elements together in a good way. I have Steampunk, Southern, and feudalistic Europe, and these are all influencing my setting. I guess you could say its just confusing working out the proper place for things. I tend to wonder what the implications of one small detail would be on twenty other things, and so I get easily sidetracked. Also, I can't find a good intro for what I'm writing. Very frustrating.

Having many influences and enjoying a little bit of everything it's hard to intertwine it all together in a way that it doesn't hurt the story nor take away from the believability you try to create for the reader.  There is a point where it can get to be too much and as my art teacher used to say, "sometimes less is more."  I guess in a word... "balance.". 


As writers we test ourselves... every word, thought, idea and grammatical choice is analyzed and contemplated.  We try to produce the best quality material we possibly can and in a genre so open "balance" can sometimes be difficult to find.  For me anyway. 


Coming from being a script writer... I do have issues sometimes with the descriptive details.  I find I'm not putting enough in.

Lately my problem has been where to stop with fantasy elements.  That's where a lot of my writing when I was younger was, and now I'm trying to go for a more mature setting. 


I also run into problems with scientific details, luckily I've been able to fudge it here and there in the manuscript I'm working on, but I'm always worried that it'll get noticeable.  Machinery though, I can figure the basics for, which is really only needed to be hinted at for the setting I have.  Pretty sure that the notes I have on the sea craft I gave one character probably wouldn't be able to go as deep as I have it, might have to rework that section...


I think I've pretty much done EVERY prompt in the prompt book I got while writing out ideas for this monster, maybe that's my main problem, way too many ideas, and trying to limit myself to just a few weeks in the character's life (God knows I could go for about a decade of their life.

For me, the biggest challenge is my lack of familiarity with weapons or technology. My husband is more knowledgeable in that area than I am, and I pick his brains when I have a tech question.
My biggest problem is the technology/science aspect but I have a father and husband who help there and my stories are science-lite.  I actually find writing steampunk liberating.  I try to keep as close to the Victorian research as possible but it's not the end of the world if I don't know something or the real history interferes with my story because steampunk is essentially a fantasy.  At least that's my take.

For me, the challenge with Steampunk is maintaining a high level of "steampunkness" without sacrificing character depth. My stories tend to be character-driven, so I have to be very careful to incorporate the steampunk elements without making them feel like they're just add-ons for the sake of making the story "steampunk." :)

For me, it is balancing tone and readability. I am targeting YA, and I have a great deal of faith in their ability to understand, but I have a tendency to use SAT words in my writing, especially when I am going for a semi-authentic Victorian era "voice." The problem is that many of those words just plain fell out of use.
A certain amount of unusual language is part of the attraction of writing that isn't contemporary realism. Of course, if it gets out of hand it can interfere with comprehension, and interrupt the flow of the story. Literature is one of the places where young people learn their vocabulary, and if they never encounter new words or grammatical structures, they'll never acquire a full use of language.


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