I’m going to be teaching an online class on writing for Young Adults Feb 14-Mar 12, 2011. More info here if anyone is interested.
Innocent Darkness is now on Goodreads. I also have a tentative release date of 8-8-12. ~insert happy dance here.~ I’ve also joined up with the Apocalypsies, the 2012 debut YA authors. If you’re curious about what five things I think are necessary for the apocolipse find out here.
Okay, enough chatter.
Today, I want to talk a little about Steampunk Archetypes.
Archetypes are stereotypes or epitomes of personalities, a generic or ideal personification if you will. They often serve as a basis for characters. Folklore has archetypes, art has archetypes, even Jung has archetypes.
Steampunk has archetypes as well. One trick to using archetypes in our story without making them seem too stereotypical or stale is to turn archetypes on their ear or even combine them (though not all characters will be based on these archetypes, and that’s okay. Original characters are just as fun).
Just a few archetypes sometimes found in Steampunk stories:
Air-Pirate – one of the quintessential Steampunk characters. Airpirates and bad, bold, and armed to the teeth.
Adventurer/Explorer—they’re reason for being is to boldly go where no one has gone before and to experience new things and discover new places.
Aviator—weather roguish or military, whether they’re flying a bi-plane, a zeppelin, or a space ship, they they’re tough, brave, and a can even a bit gallant, especially in contrast to Air-Pirates.
Dandy/Femme Fatale—they use their wiles and charms to get what they want, sometimes at the expense of others.
Mad Scientist/Inventor—another quintessential Steampunk character, they embody the steam in steampunk, discovering new things, solving problems, and occasionally blowing things up
Mechanic/Tinker—a bit of a twist on the Scientist/Inventor. Where the Inventor is creating things from scratch, the tinker is improving on things, often on the fly, or perhaps just trying to get things to work, making due with what they have.
Philosopher/Scholar-they like old books and wax poetic about the classics, they could also be trying to learn new things and discover new ideas—or uncover the ideas of old. They may talk too much about things no one cares about or prefer books to people.
Socialite/Lady/Gentleman—Often based on Victorian aristocracy, they can often embody the refinement and social norms we associate with the upper class of that era. Many times they serve as patrons for the scholars, adventurers, and inventors.
Street Sparrow/Scrappy Survivor—These are the street urchins, your pickpockets and beggars. Hungry and dirty, they do what they need to do to survive.
Reformer –They could be suffragettes or seeking to get rid of child labor or protesting imperialism, they are working to make the world a better place, often loudly and not always peacefully and without scandal.
I’m sure you can think of all sorts of variations. A Scientist doesn’t need to be mad, perhaps they’re naturalists or cryptozoologists. Tinkers could work on Airships. Airpirates might be reformers in their own way.
What would happen if you mix these archetypes up, either as a whole or as your character’s life progresses (the street sparrow grows up to be a reformer, or a lady is secretly a tinker…)? You have characters that are familiar yet different, with potential for depth and interesting backstory.
What sorts of Steampunk folks populate your world?