Steampunk, anyone?

by - June 17, 2011

This month I’ve been using the RWA’s 50Kin30Days event to do a little experimenting. Up to now I’ve only concentrated on contemporary romance, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to flex my writing muscles and decided I’d try writing a steampunk novella. This has thrown up some interesting new challenges for me.

  •  Novella. I’ve never written a novella before. I initially aimed for between 20K and 30K, and I think I’ll end up with about 28K. Best-selling author Angela Knight has some good tips on how to write a novella.

  • History. My story is set in Victorian England, and I’ve never written a historical romance before. I enjoy reading historical, but I’m not so confident about writing them, especially when it comes to dialogue. I don’t want the characters to sound too modern, but neither do I want them sounding like stuffed shirts.

  • World building. A good steampunk story involves building a world filled with airships, aether, ray guns, and all sorts of inventions. The world building has to sound plausible, but it can’t occupy huge blocks of narrative (especially in a novella).

  • Steampunkery. To me steampunk has always been very visual, and it can be hard to get those visuals down in writing. It’s far easier to show steampunk in pictures than in words. I’ve read a few steampunk novels, and the best I’ve come across recently is Phil and Kaja Foglio’s Aagatha H and the Airship City. It’s actually based on their Girl Genius webcomic, so it’s also coming from a visual medium. Some book reviewers lament the book isn’t as good as the graphic novels, but I enjoyed the book even though I’d never heard of the webcomic.
So I’ve had a lot of new things to juggle, but I told myself what the heck. It’s a chance to try something outside the box, and I’ve actually loved it.

You May Also Like


  1. I've never actually read a steampunk but the idea fascinates me. Perhaps I'll have to make yours my first :)

  2. Rachael, you've probably seen a steampunk movie like Wild Wild West, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, or The Golden Compass.

  3. And what about the new Sherloch Holmes? That would fit, yes?

    WTG on writing a Steampunk, Coleen! I think you'll have a ball.


  4. Robyn, yes the new Sherlock Holmes was definitely steampunk!