1. JPGriffin
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    JPGriffin Senior Member

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    Steampunk Settings in a Novel

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by JPGriffin, Jul 15, 2012.

    Steampunk, a mix of old-age fantasy and sci-fi technology, has a huge place in the hearts of many people; it's become the setting of many television shows and video games alike, and the "genre" itself has its roots in fan bases across the world. There's a lot to love about it, for sure, but how practical is it for a novel setting? At the moment, no real mainstream novels have taken place in steampunk settings, and this has me both worried and excited. If it's practical to use as a setting, then that means that a steampunk novel can easily be noticed as "unique," earning it a respectful name if nothing else. Otherwise, it could be a huge laborious waste of time better spent elsewhere. Your thoughts?
     
  2. Caeben
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    Caeben Member

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    The "practicality" of the setting is completely secondary to the story you're tying to tell. If there's no story, then the setting choice will hardly matter. If you have a story to tell, then the setting really, in my view, still doesn't matter that much. So long as the characters and the story are evocative, and you can make the setting, whatever it is, evocative and relate-able, then it doesn't matter if its stereotypical fantasy, steampunk, cyberpunk, or so far flung scifi realm.
     
  3. Pink-Angel-1992
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    Pink-Angel-1992 Active Member

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    As already said, the story is what matters. You need a story worth telling. No-one will care if the story is steampunk or set in modern day if the story is cruddy. In addition to the story you're telling, it's about how you tell it. You can have a great idea, but the way you write it might be rubbish, like you could have a poor sounding idea, but the way you writing might leave readers in aw. You want an idea worth writing, an idea that inspires you to write it; if you want to write a Steampunk, then you need to work the idea and the Steampunk world together.

    It's your story and you should write for yourself, because doing that you're more likely, if not certain to, enjoy writing the story and then it won't been a waste of time to write.
     
  4. Jamie Senopole
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    Jamie Senopole Member

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    I don't think Steampunk is impractical at all. I'm a steampunk fan, myself. First of all, steampunk is the futuristic innovations as people from the Victorian era would have imagined it. Steam power is widely used and is usually found in an alternate futuristic Victorian era or placed in the Wild West or in a post-apocalyptic time. If you think about how it would be placed in an "alternate era" nothing is impractical. But think about your story and if this era fits, if it doesn't it might come off as awkward where the reader won't be able to lose themselves in it.
     
  5. jane elliot
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    jane elliot Member

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    I would love to see some steampunk-influenced writing on the shelves, actually. I think, as a genre, it has the potential to be almost more relatable than traditional sci-fi, because a lot of it is influenced by famous writers like Charles Dickens and H.G. Wells, drawing from a world we recognize. As long as a steampunk setting is an essential part of the plot--as long as there's a reason you're using it--then I say go for it!
     
  6. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    For me as with any story , setting is only dressing for what's going on - sure a person could waste a lot of time writing a steampunk novel , they could also waste an equal amount of time writing a dull mystery. I'm with Pink Angel, It's all about story and the characters. If they're believable then your setting will come to life.

    And there are some steampunk ya novels out there , that have done well....
    The Night Watchman Express by Alison Deluca
    The City of Embers by Jeanne Duprau
    The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross
     
  7. JPGriffin
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    JPGriffin Senior Member

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    I think I'll have to check out the other 2 novels, but I'm scratching my head at The City of Ember. I want to call it sci-fi, being in a futuristic setting, but at the same time there's no huge technological influence much anywhere in the novel- in fact, the lack of technology is a huge part of the setting. I can see how it can be called "Steampunk," sort of, but I'm not sure what genre it fits under.

    Also, to those saying that the story is what matters, I beg to differ; a plot is a huge part of the novel, but the setting needs to be just right to complete it. Huge hits such as Lord of the Rings and various novels from YA to Children's books all needed the right place and time to work. I'm not saying that the story's not important, but the setting does have an influence; it's not something to brush off or scoff at.
     
  8. Morkonan
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    Morkonan Senior Member

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    There are quite a few Steampunk novels out there, but they're just not as visible as more mundane Fantasy/Science-Fiction. There are also piles of them on the Anime/Manga shelves, if you care for those genres. You also have to give some credit to "Dystopic Society" novels as having a general steampunk flair. (Steampunk often copies dystopic themes.) They're very popular, as well.

    Hmm.. How do I put this? My thoughts are that Steampunk is a sorry excuse for a genre, if you wish to know the truth. In fact, it's not really something I would ever call a genre unto itself. In order to create a steampunk novel, all you need is leather, brass, a few analog gauges, some steam and people that buy their clothes out of ancient Sears & Roebuck catalogs. That's it and it surely isn't something that qualifies as a "genre", in my opinion. A dystopic novel is a type of genre, but it much less limited.

    Look at it like this - I tell you that you can write about anything you wish, but it can't use any technology of any higher level than steam, for whatever reason. Does THAT qualify anything as a "genre?" Blech.. no. It's.. poopy. :)

    I understand the artistic attraction to Steampunk. I've done some 3D Steampunk models for funsies (3d modeling is a hobby of mine.) and it's fun trying to figure out how to make things work in traditional Steampunk fashion. But, in my opinion, Steampunk is more of a style and genre suitable for the visual arts than writing.

    That being said, I see no reason why any writer shouldn't write about whatever they wish. So, if you like Steampunk, by all means write Steampunk! I have no problem with that. However, it had better be written very, very good for me to consider purchasing it off the shelf. :D
     
  9. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    I have enjoyed steam punk movies and books. It seems to me there is a general stirring of interest towards steam punk so I expect to see much more of it in the future. It is hard to predict trends but steam punk seems like a pretty good place to put your bet.

    Of course I agree that you have to have a good story/plot. Just because steam punk has an audience doesn't mean a poorly written steam punk book will be received well. However, I believe that you can pick a setting and daydream a story to fit that setting just as easy as you can pick a story and fill in the setting to fit it. So I say, dream about your steam punk world until you find a character in that world who has a story to tell. Then write it!
     
  10. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I hope I didn't sound as if I was scoffing or brushing off setting - I go on too much about it in my own work, not to know that setting is integral to mood.
    What I meant is that story/characters is important above all - Alice in Wonderland has rather bare bones setting but is brought to life with the Mad Hatter's cry of Clean cup! You can draw out the most elaborate crumbling tea party ever - but without the Mad Hatter it might be forgotten. Balance is the key to pull off anything new. Be it Vampire fiction , Steampunk or Zombie. Without the balance it'll just get lost in the heap of genre fiction.

    If you look at the pros who kicked off the trends - they had great balance of character/story and setting - Anne Rice - Interview with a Vampire ,
    William Gibson - Neuromancer , K.W. Jeter - Infernal Devices ( he's the one who coined the phrase Steampunk. )
     

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