On Writing (and Editing) Steampunk

On Writing (and Editing) Steampunk
March 1, 2017 No Comments » Editing, For Authors, Writing Advice E.C. Jarvis


It seems you are an expert on all things steampunk – I feel like the movie voice-over guy says this to me every time someone asks me to write about steampunk. I mean, okay, I have four published books that broadly fit into the steampunk genre box, but I don’t have a badge or a certificate from the Chartered Institute of Steampunkees to qualify my opinions on the subject. I kinda wish that was a thing, now that I’ve mentioned it. I also kinda wish I had that movie voice-over guy narrating my life. It would be hilarious.

I digress.

The point I was trying to make is that you should consider this as a sort of guideline, not an exhaustive “must do these things” list, because I’m no expert and really, like any genre (in fact more so than most, I would argue) steampunk can be twisted and bent and moulded into something beyond the confines of the rules. The better the twisting, the better the book in my opinion.

[bctt tweet=”The better the twisting, the better the #book. @ecjarvis #amediting #steampunk #writingtips #WednesdayWisdom” username=”OurWriteSide”]

editing steampunkAs to editing. I suck at editing. I can do the basics, but after a while, I lose interest in picking my sentence structure to pieces and putting it back together in a more reasonable form. IT’S BORING. The only answer I have found is to simply pay someone else to do the work for you. That way you get the fun part of writing and someone else gets reasonably compensated for doing the boring stuff. Everyone wins… apart from your bank account.

That works for line editing, copyediting, and/or proofreading. If your concern is to check the content of your steampunk novel is… well, steampunky enough, then what you really need is a developmental edit. Preferably a developmental edit by an editor who is well versed in all things steampunk. Not just a Chartered Fellow of Steampunkees, but a senior partner in the institute. Basically, you need someone who knows what they are talking about – which rules me out so don’t even ask.

There is nothing like a good google search to set you up with some real starting-point info on what makes a book “steampunk” but I’ll reiterate the points here. Provided you have a combination of at least three of the following elements, then that is enough to class your book as steampunk.

The style – Victorian clothes, lots of top hats, monocles, corsets and so on.

Steam – well, duh! Seriously though, if you have diesel run machines in your book, then it’s probably more Dieselpunk – yes it’s a thing. Think steam trains, coal fires, and no electricity,

Gadgets – lots of them, the kookier the better,

Travel – Train, boat, carriage… AIRSHIP, there’s usually some form of journey involved,

Fantasy – Magic, creatures, exploding dragons in top-hats, you get the idea

If you have a good developmental editor who is well-read in steampunk literature then you’ll be two steps ahead of the game when it comes to ensuring your work fits neatly into the box. That said, the box has some very loose walls, there is a lot of give within the genre, no matter what the die-hard punkists say.

[bctt tweet=”A good developmental #editor is a must for #Steampunk. @ecjarvis #amediting #writerslife” username=”OurWriteSide”]

Get out there, write it, edit the living hell out of it, and then you too might get your own personal movie voice-over guy congratulating you on your acceptance into the Chartered Institute.

E.C. Jarvis E.C. Jarvis is a British author working mainly in speculative and fantasy fiction genres. Since 2015, she has independently published five books spanning two different genres and series. The Machine, The Pirate, and The War in The Blood and Destiny series - a steampunk adventure. Desire and Duty, and Lust and Lies in The Consort's Chronicles series - an erotic fantasy. If you like action packed, fast-paced page turners, then try one of her books. There's never a dull moment in those pages. She was born in Surrey, England in 1982. She now resides in Hampshire, England with her daughter and husband. For more information visit www.ecjarvis.com

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