Since I am writing steampunk, how could I resist a book titled just that? I stumbled across Writing Steampunk by Beth Daniels while browsing Amazon.
It’s difficult for me, a newcomer to Steampunk (although I enjoyed plenty of the books Beth has listed without knowing they were steampunk — such as Fire Rose by Mercedes Lackey) to critique the book and the advice Beth shares.
Fortunately, no one said I had to critique it, so I’m going to slide sideways into a brief discussion of the emphasis Beth puts on getting historical details right and using them to add colour, interest and quirkiness.
I studied history at uni (many years ago) and it’s an interest that’s stayed with me (unlike Constitutional Law–ugh). So I enjoyed the historical timelines and details Beth presents. I really wonder though if steampunk requires that degree of accuracy in when and where you site your story. Close enough is good enough for many readers as long as the action moves at a fast, intriguing clip. I tend to apply lessons learned in trying to write science fiction–as long as it’s coherent, consistent and credible, you’ll bring your readers (and the gatekeepers, editors!) with you.
For my steampunk novellas, I actually spend quite a bit of time researching the history/cultural setting–but how much of this is necessary, as opposed to personal indulgence, I don’t know.
How much real history do you like in your steampunk?
[You can find my review of Writing Steampunk at Goodreads]