Steampunk isn't as different as you think it is.

I've read a lot of steampunk fiction over the last few months and most of it, I am sorry to say, isn't very good. And there is, I think, a reason for this - the assumption that writing steampunk is somehow different from writing in other genres.

Much of it seems to work on the premise that if you shoehorn enough steampunk ephemera into a story it'll be a good steampunk story. I don't think this is quite right.

A good story will stand alone without the props and gewgaws. if you're really clever the steampunkiness ceases to be the number of heroines in corsets and goggles and clever inventions and becomes an essential part of the warp and weft of the story writing - often understated and cleverly put together. 'The Strange Affair of Springheeled Jack' springs to mind as a great example of what I mean.

The same rules apply to writing Steampunk as apply to writing everything else, in my humble opinion.  You can put as many airships and steampowered bicycles into a story as you wish, but if it isn't a very good story, it isn't going to be very good steampunk. 

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Comment by Ray Dean on April 30, 2012 at 2:53am
it's the same as any world in a story... the pieces have to fit... things that are thrown in for effect don't work... you'll get that nagging feeling that something isn't right... and you may not put your finger on it... but it's there... or not there as the case may be...
Comment by Xeno Gilder on April 30, 2012 at 10:52am

I hope I have a bit of an anvantage since Im completly new to the genre so Im not overly mezmerized by it, as Ive only read a few paragraphs of examples of what Steampunk 'should' be.

Comment by Stephen Swartz on May 9, 2012 at 8:47am

An actual story is still needed, no matter the trappings.

Comment by Madeleine Holly-Rosing on July 4, 2012 at 5:29pm

I would agree that you need a good story and compelling characters that you care about. The steampunk element is part of the world building from where the characters spring.


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