I’m going to be teaching Writing Steampunk Aether to Zephlin again, this is revised version of the class I taught last November (which was great fun) and a beginner/intermediate overview class covering the basic nuts and bots of writing Steampunk. It runs July 5 – July 29, 2011 via a private email loop classroom. The cost is $20. More info here.
Writing Steampunk Technology
The trick to writing about technology and your gadgets is to only reveal to the reader what your character might actually know. Otherwise, it can pull us out of the story, feeling like both an author intrusion and an info dump.
For example, a society lady may give no thought to how something works, only noting that it might be noisy, messy, or shiny. But an inquisitive child or a scientist might analyze its workings or even come up with improvements in their heads.
But at the same time, this isn’t a license to info dump or spend paragraphs waxing poetic about steam engines (even if it is in character). Keep in mind – does the reader need to know this and does the reader need to know this now.
Your technology should be showcased in your steampunk novel, but at the same time, you don’t need to point out or dissect every, single detail. This screams “See, my novel is steampunk, look, look” and can take the reader out of the story. Again, think about what your particular character would actually notice, what they may actually know about a particular item, its uses, origins, and inner-workings.
Also, your technology needs to be integral to your world building. If you can take the tech out of your story, and it still stands, it’s not truly steampunk.
However, it may still have steampunk elements, and if you’re okay with this, then by all means, go for it. Otherwise you may need to rethink your tech and world and brainstorm on ways to make it stronger.
Here’s a starter list of Steampunk tech here.
How is your tech integral to your world?