Tuesday, March 8, 2016

How To Write: Steampunk

Today, we've got my awesome friend Aimee, here to teach you about the wonders of steampunk.

Behold. It’s me, Aimee, guest-posting on Krissy’s blog because she’s awesome like that and I love to shove my thoughts onto the internet whenever possible. (So thanks for that, Krissy, you wonderful human being you.)

Krissy’s asked me to talk about steampunk and how to write it. This is a mistake because 1) I have no clue what I’m doing myself most of the time and 2) I am still personally trying to figure out how to write steampunk and how to not write steampunk.
This is partly because there’s no actual way to write steampunk.
Yes, I can see the horrified gasps now. Allow me to explain to you a thing. (many things, actually. Sorry. I basically never shut up.)
There’s no way to write steampunk. There’s really no way to not write steampunk.
That’s the beauty of the genre. (By the way, do you not know what steampunk is? Go Google it. Look up some pictures. Be amazed. It’s the coolest.) It’s a genre for rulebreakers, genre-mashers, people who like to use cool words, people who like to have machines and Victorian Era dresses in the same context, people who are too lazy to do a ton of research, and basically doing whatever the heck you want. It’s weird, as weird as you want it to be. There are no limits to the creativity, the imagination, the smashing-together of things that shouldn’t make sense but do when you put them together like that.
So you want to write steampunk? Just dive into the middle of it.

Read steampunk. Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld and Airborn by Kenneth Oppel are wonderful places to start if you want a feel for how this genre works. Every single steampunk world is different, creative, its own little thing, but you’ll start to feel the wonder of it all, the focus on inventing and new ideas and lush worlds teeming with life of all kinds. That’s probably helpful. (But really, reading is a helpful way to write any genre better. Read all the books, peeps.)
Try it out. Honestly? Just jump right in. There’s no wrong way to write steampunk. Make up some kooky machines. Slap a corset and goggles on a Victorian lady’s dress and make her an airship pirate, or a doctor, or a high-society evil queen, or whatever. Go crazy with it. Experiment. Write about people experimenting. Do whatever you want! This is the no-rules genre.
Don’t forget worldbuilding. This is the most important part of steampunk books, I think. A lot of the time the setting can function as a character of its own, something that drives the plot forward. In Leviathan, we explore an alternate version of WWI, filled with genetically-fabricated animals and hulking metal war machines. That changes the way the war goes, it changes the way characters interact with each other, it creates conflict between creepy-genetic-animal people and hulking-war-machine people. Airborn takes place almost entirely on a hydrogen-powered airship filled with mechanikal gear-and-clockwork gadgets. Lush, detailed worlds are what make steampunk...well, steampunk.
Look stuff up. You’re a grown-up writer-person, I’m sure. You can Google things like “how to write steampunk.” Steampunk is all about visuals, so scroll through some Pinterest boards for a while! Read examples. Look up the weirdness that is steampunk bands if you need inspiration. (Abney Park is a good place to start.)
Experiment. I’m repeating myself at this point, but...pretty much the only mistake you can make with steampunk is being afraid to do stuff. (And, possibly, not including at least one mad scientist/inventor character.) Do whatever you want! Get a feel for the way steampunk goes and invent your own feel off that. Go crazy.
Basically: Smash stuff together. Break rules. Don’t be scared. Add plenty of clockwork and cool outfits. Give people British accents. Be rebellious. Be creative.
Be steampunky, y’all.

Once again, thank you to the ever-wonderful Krissy for letting me guest post! I’m sure I screwed it up. *waves at you all*

   Aimee Meester is a reader, writer, watcher, and lover of all things weird and/or sci-fi. When she's not busy reading, writing, watching, or otherwise procrastinating she's a homeschooled extrovert who happened to find the internet and build up a bizarre little blog of her own. Her love for Les Mis knows no bounds.


  1. Excellent advice! I'm currently *trying* to write a steampunkish novel right now, so this was a helpful reminder. <3

    1. So glad we could be of help! Good luck on your novel! :)

  2. Thank you so much for this post! I'm outlining a steampunk novel right now, and I've never tried this genre before. I'm looking forward to writing it, but I was also a little bit scared that I would break genre rules I didn't know about. So thanks Aimee for this awesome, encouraging post! :D

    1. Steampunk is a super fun genre. Good for you for trying out something new!

  3. As always, Aimee, I love the things you have to say about writing! ❤️

  4. Cool! Steampunk sounds like such a fun genre!

  5. This helped a lot :3

  6. Googling how to write steampunk led me to an article that told me to google how to write steampunk LOL