Glue on some gears and call it Steampunk. Heaven to Betsy, they’ll end up on regretsy. This is the message of the fun and fabulous video by Reginald Pikedevant.
For anyone unfamiliar with the This Is Not Steampunk section of Regretsy, please take a look. You’ll have a good laugh at what people are willing to pass off as handmade Stemapunk crafts for prices far exceeding any work put into these items. Click here for Things That Are Not Steampunk
You may be asking, ok Maeve, how does this apply to writing? Sometimes I think authors are falsely accused of “this is not steampunk” simply because their author’s voice may not be similar to particular steampunk books that readers, editors or reviewers are use to. There is room in the Steampunk genre for a great variety. Steampunk by its nature, unlike other genres, is a cross genre to start with, historical/sci-fi. Though of course it is more than that.
There are elements that should be included in the genre. But when you transfer it from the voice of a sci-fi writer to the voice of a romance writer for example, you are may get a lighter or a sexier or in some books a more humorous tone. Some of these stories even have a quirkier or even chick-lit vibe to them. A great example of writing that is less somber than what might be termed traditional Steampunk yet is definitely Steampunk, and marvelous at that, is Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protection series.
Variety is beneficial to Steampunk. I write in a cross genre, Steampunk/ Romance, but as a reader I embrace other cross genres as well, Horror/ Steampunk/, Paranormal/ Steampunk, Westernpunk, Inspirational/Steampunk and more. If the basic elements exist along with skillful writing, I feel cross genres books are as good as any other Steampunk books. Some necessary elements for skillful writing are strong fleshed out characters, showing instead of telling, entertaining dialog that moves the plot along, and a damn good story that sweeps the reader into the book. When the book ends, if the reader is still immersed in the marvelous fictional world created for them, then the author has done their job.
As far as the basic element of steampunk, one is recognizable ascetics, such as: steam driven machines with gears, clockwork machines, mentions of Tesla or Queen Victoria, Victorian type dress, speech, and behavior, gadgets, automations, copper and brass, just to name a few. Another element is that the hero or heroine is a free spirits, they go against the grain of what society expects of them, they are out to make the world a better place, sometimes without knowing it. There is also the element of a steampunk theme. Some of them are technology’s impact on gender, race, and class, a dystopian society or nature versus technology.
I do think there is writing in general, steampunk and otherwise, however, that does fall into the regretsy category. These are writers that submit or self publish incomplete books. They write the first draft of a novel, a great accomplishment in itself but instead of revising it again and again until the elements of the craft of writing are included to the highest level of perfection, they take the rough draft and edit it, only, and submit it to a publisher or self-publish it, usually on Amazon, as is. One could say they stick glue on it and try to sell it as a finished book, in that little or no revisions have been done. Many of these authors may not realize that apart from the creativity there is a craft to writing, a skill set that has to be learned.
If you want to write a book, Steampunk or otherwise, please take the time to learn the craft of writing. One of the greatest rewards of writing is the pride in knowing you created this amazing thing that comes alive when people read it. You will touch the hearts and souls of people you will never even meet and that they will not only like and remember the story you told, but they will feel they are part of it long after they’ve closed the book.
Maeve Alpin is the author of four Steampunk/Romances: Conquistadors In Outer Space, To Love A London Ghost, As Timeless As Magic, and As Timeless As Stone.