The Steampunk Forum at Brass Goggles
December 11, 2017, 02:17:57 pm *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length
News: Brassgoggles.co.uk - The Lighter Side Of Steampunk, follow @brasstech for forum technical problems & updates.
 
   Home   Blog Help Rules Login Register  
Pages: [1]   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: Steampunk Novels/Writing - Likes and Dislikes  (Read 964 times)
NoirMagus
Deck Hand
*
New Zealand New Zealand



« on: September 29, 2016, 08:34:48 pm »

I've completed one steampunk novel and am in the process of writing my second. I am fairly new to the genre and I'd be interested to hear what other readers and writers like and dislike. Either particular novels or story elements, or styles of writing, or pretty much any other thoughts. I'm keen to learn.
Logged
Cora Courcelle
Snr. Officer
****
England England



« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2016, 05:40:23 pm »

I dislike stories where the hero/heroine is obviously the author (or how the author would like to be perceived).
Another dislike - trilogies that are really only one book but have been chopped up so I have to buy all three to get the finish of the story.*
(That doesn't mean I don't enjoy sequels or series of books, but each story should be able to stand alone even though it may reference other works).

*The one exception to this that I can think of is 'The Lord of the Rings'.
Logged

You have to tread a fine line between avant-garde surrealism and getting yourself sectioned...
NoirMagus
Deck Hand
*
New Zealand New Zealand



« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2016, 08:44:08 pm »

Thanks Cora. I think many first novels tend to be a bit autobiographical - I guess people take the 'write what you know' adage a bit too much to heart.

My editor would agree with your second point. I am hoping to write a series but she says this first novel needs to work better as a stand alone so I am rewriting sections at the moment. I guess the publisher will see how the first book goes and then decide whether it has legs to be series.
Logged
Atterton
Time Traveler
****

Only The Shadow knows


« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2016, 09:02:40 pm »

I dislike stories where the characters act like modern people in period dress.
Logged

Resurrectionist and freelance surgeon.
NoirMagus
Deck Hand
*
New Zealand New Zealand



« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2016, 09:57:58 pm »

That's another good point Atterton. It's quite a balancing act I guess. I sometimes find if the characters are too 'Victorian' then it becomes distracting and it drops me out of the story. But equally if the language and actions are particularly modern it also doesn't sit right. I probably err on the side of being too modern but I do try to strip out anything overly inappropriate.

Logged
James Harrison
Immortal
**
England England


Bachelor of the Arts; Master of the Sciences


« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2016, 03:42:26 pm »

The whole 'Victorian secret agent in Victorian London' has been thoroughly done to death in my opinion.  I prefer Steampunk novels with a setting other than Victorian London with main characters other than secret agents. 
Logged

Persons intending to travel by open carriage should select a seat with their backs to the engine, by which means they will avoid the ashes emitted therefrom, that in travelling generally, but particularly through the tunnels, prove a great annoyance; the carriage farthest from the engine will in consequence be found the most desirable.
Madasasteamfish
A clanger waiting to be dropped......
Board Moderator
Rogue Ætherlord
**
United Kingdom United Kingdom


09madasafish
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2016, 09:20:51 pm »

The whole 'Victorian secret agent in Victorian London' has been thoroughly done to death in my opinion.  I prefer Steampunk novels with a setting other than Victorian London with main characters other than secret agents. 

Well I think that's simply down to a combination of 'Foggy London Street' having become pop culture shorthand for 19th century Britain (but it is nice to see things from a different perspective) and 'Secret Agent XYZ...' being the only character people can imagine using any form of gadget (a la James Bond/007).

The problem I have with the above (and many other things in the world of fan-fic/self publishing and the like) is that there are some people who do it well, and show promise (or at least offer a unique take on things) but their work is drowning in an ocean of half-a*sed rip-offs and formulaic band wagon jumpers.
Logged

I made a note in my diary on the way over here. Simply says; "Bugger!"

"DON'T THINK OF IT AS DYING, JUST THINK OF IT AS LEAVING EARLY TO AVOID THE RUSH."
NoirMagus
Deck Hand
*
New Zealand New Zealand



« Reply #7 on: October 02, 2016, 12:03:52 am »

I take your point Madasasteamfish. This happens in any genre of writing. You have people who practice the craft and learn over the years and those who blat something out and launch it into the world expecting to be the next big thing. I own two bookshops and generally my heart drops when someone approaches me and say 'I've written a book.' There are some great self-published works out there but as you suggest they are the rare pearls in a sea of unpalatable molluscs.

I have also read a number of traditionally published steampunk novels that really don't hit the mark for me, hence I posed the question to see what other, perhaps more experienced than me in the genre, think.
Logged
Cora Courcelle
Snr. Officer
****
England England



« Reply #8 on: October 04, 2016, 09:50:15 pm »

Quite a lot of the (paper) published steampunk novels seem to be aimed at teens too - not that this means they are badly written, quite the contrary, but it's more difficult for me as a reader to empathise with the lead character when she/he is so much younger and consequently the standard of characterisation has to be higher to hold my attention.
Having said that, I have the greatest admiration for anyone who has managed to get a book published professionally, even if it's not in a style that I enjoy.
Logged
pakled
Zeppelin Captain
*****
United States United States


Minions Local 305, at your thervice!


« Reply #9 on: October 05, 2016, 03:18:30 am »

I dislike stories where the hero/heroine is obviously the author - otherwise known as a "Mary Sue.' There's a term for males as well,but alas, I don't remember what it is...Wink
Logged
Atterton
Time Traveler
****

Only The Shadow knows


« Reply #10 on: October 05, 2016, 11:35:01 am »

The term Mary Sue is used for males as well.
Logged
Mechanic Williams
Zeppelin Captain
*****
United Kingdom United Kingdom

I need a bigger hammer. BIGGER! That's it...


« Reply #11 on: October 17, 2016, 08:44:07 am »

The whole 'Victorian secret agent in Victorian London' has been thoroughly done to death in my opinion.  I prefer Steampunk novels with a setting other than Victorian London with main characters other than secret agents. 

Same. While I get this is popular, let's hear about a gang of riveters in Newcastle, or a free-booting airship crew trying to avoid the customs lot. Detectives and agents are interesting (If done well), but I like to imagine there's more career choices available in a steampunk universe. Those boilers won't stoke themselves!

Ultimately the thing I dislike most about writing steampunk is being judged on whether or not it is 'steampunk'. As you've probably seen, what is and isn't steampunk can lead to debates that can last several years and cost lives in the process (Or a new monitor at least). Ultimately just write what you want, and let the nitpickers nitpick to their shriveled heart's content.
Logged

If you can't fix it with a hammer, it's an electrical problem.
CPT_J_Percell
Board Moderator
Zeppelin Captain
**
England England


The werewolf Airship Captain.


WWW
« Reply #12 on: October 17, 2016, 09:18:22 pm »

I don't write "SteamPunk" I write Victorian Fantasy.  Grin
With Reference to James Harrison - Will a foggy Bristol count?
With Reference to the Mary Sue.... Is that not what is classed and "Bad Form First Person"?
With Reference to:
Quote
The problem I have with the above (and many other things in the world of fan-fic/self publishing and the like) is that there are some people who do it well, and show promise (or at least offer a unique take on things) but their work is drowning in an ocean of half-a*sed rip-offs and formulaic band wagon jumpers.
This is a horrible common thing now adays, just look at hollywood
Logged

I suffer from a random misfiring synapse and a bad case of wolfen the turns me into a seven-foot-tall werewolf or a seven-foot great wolf!
https://dragon-rehoming-centre.myshopify.com/
http://purbry.wordpress.com
Madasasteamfish
A clanger waiting to be dropped......
Board Moderator
Rogue Ætherlord
**
United Kingdom United Kingdom


09madasafish
« Reply #13 on: October 17, 2016, 10:12:08 pm »

Just realised another pet peeve of mine is any kind of anti-hero who despite having character flaws and problems seeping out of every pore and makes every effort to hide their better nature, but still has the morality of a saint and will obviously do the right thing, for the right reasons when the situation (inventively) arises.

That's not to say I want to read about them doing various horrible things, but the writer could least make it *seem* like they could or would do said things.

Also, speaking of heroes, I really dislike the Deus ex Machina of a character having *exactly* the right skill to get themselves out of any given situation, or any character who has a skill set to the extent that they're essentially a walking swiss army knife.
Logged
Kensington Locke
Officer
***
United States United States


« Reply #14 on: October 17, 2016, 10:35:31 pm »

I dislike stories where the hero/heroine is obviously the author (or how the author would like to be perceived).
Another dislike - trilogies that are really only one book but have been chopped up so I have to buy all three to get the finish of the story.*
(That doesn't mean I don't enjoy sequels or series of books, but each story should be able to stand alone even though it may reference other works).

*The one exception to this that I can think of is 'The Lord of the Rings'.

Tough audience Smiley

I'm working on the first book of a potential series, where I probably do everything Cora dislikes:)
I'll have to keep that in mind (not to please Cora, but because they are good points that go against my plan).  I had based my main character on having pieces of his backstory being similar to mine, but then divergent (not just because he's got cool powers or something) but as an actual what-if things had gone a different direction  at some mid-point in my life.

In theory, it let me have a known starting point for the character, but the Mary Sue thing might be a problem if that seems to evident.

I've also broken up the big story into 15-18 thousand word shortish stories.  Each are complete, but obviously continuations from the previous.  My real plan is that I could self-publish each as a $1 story, or bundle them as a Novel in the guise of a story collection (ala Sherlock Holmes as most of us read it now from front to back in a collected work).

If the writing doesn't suck, as my test readers seem to like it, maybe I will be OK.  Nobody wants to be labeled a Mary Sue Sad

You guys have given me an idea for an adjustment to a short story I was pondering.  I had an idea for a near-future sci-fi story about the age of auto-driving vehicles, and based on the comment about nobody doing work about non-Secret Agents in Not-London, maybe I could re-work it to be a steam punk piece, telling of the same concern of technological change and economics.

Logged
Cora Courcelle
Snr. Officer
****
England England



« Reply #15 on: October 19, 2016, 04:32:43 pm »

The reason why I buy the second book of a series is because I want to find out more about the characters NOT just what happens to them next; there's a subtle but important difference - a bit like wanting to know what your friends have been doing but not being interested in the life story of someone who just happens to sit next to you on the bus!
I do like the idea of lots of short stories and merely point out that many of the Sherlock Holmes stories can be read out of sequence, particularly in the individual volumes ......
Logged
Kensington Locke
Officer
***
United States United States


« Reply #16 on: October 19, 2016, 07:54:57 pm »

The reason why I buy the second book of a series is because I want to find out more about the characters NOT just what happens to them next; there's a subtle but important difference - a bit like wanting to know what your friends have been doing but not being interested in the life story of someone who just happens to sit next to you on the bus!
I do like the idea of lots of short stories and merely point out that many of the Sherlock Holmes stories can be read out of sequence, particularly in the individual volumes ......

my example reference to Sherlock isn't perfect... Smiley

With your first point, I'm thinking about what you mean vs. my experience with serial books.  what happens next tends to be an integral part of "more about the characters" as the author invents/reveals more stuff about them that hooks into the next story's events.  Unlike Rowling's rare posts where she announces "BTW, dumbledore is gay." which reveals more about a character without any "what happens next"

At least for now, my interpretation of your preference is that my characters should be interesting enough that you want to read more.  And that should cover more than just what they did next, but also a bit of who they are.

Either way, good things to consider when writing.



Logged
Lazaras
Zeppelin Admiral
******
United States United States


Have Wierd; Will Travel.


WWW
« Reply #17 on: October 20, 2016, 02:42:13 pm »

Just realised another pet peeve of mine is any kind of anti-hero who despite having character flaws and problems seeping out of every pore and makes every effort to hide their better nature, but still has the morality of a saint and will obviously do the right thing, for the right reasons when the situation (inventively) arises.

Basically if they're bad people it needs to be less of an informed thing and more actually shown.

Ditto with 'right skill at the right time.' If they have an appropriate skillset make it seem less extraordinary and more 'Almost anyone could have, but this time it was them' or at the very least make the whole thing seem less like a pull out of nowhere.


Dresden files does good at making a very powerful character always seem in constant danger, and given victories that are never clean, neat, or tidy.
Logged

Cheapie Theatre
Want something to read? Got ten minutes to kill? Here you go!
Kristoff
Swab

United States United States


Major Hadrian Hamish Sprocketsnipe


« Reply #18 on: October 22, 2016, 08:41:43 am »

Hello everyone,

I wanted to chime in here. I have been trained in both Fiction Writing and Screenwriting. One of the things I have developed internally as a writer based on my experience is that any art form that is conceived by an artist, generally is taken from their lives or the world around them. Especially in literature. So I have to disagree with some of the "dislikes" about the author being the main character or participant in the novel. Writers usually pour themselves onto the page, so stripping them of this turns the writing into a "happy meal". Meaning you slap some ingredients on a bun and wrap it in a cover and send it off. It's kind of degrading actually.

The biggest positive of writers putting themselves in the story in some fashion, is they are lending you their life and history which should enrich the stories or characters within them.

Now onto another topic. I too am fairly new to Steampunk in terms of writing, but I have always been drawn to the aesthetic. I have a small concern about the general direction of the writings. My issue appears to be centered on the aspect that most stories revolve around the Victorian era or Post-apocalyptic worlds. Now, of course, I completely understand why that is, but my worry is there seems to be some apprehension for the genre to evolve. From the readings that I have done, both fiction and non-fiction, there seems to be a rule that limits the scope of the world. For example, I read that fashion should be limited to Victorian or early Edwardian. Poppycock!

If we look at science fiction evolution, and for my example I will draw from the most popular titles like Star Trek and Star Wars. These stories each evolve over the course of time. From the early Starship Enterprise to the Next Generation Enterprise. The ship doesn't stay stagnant, nor does the fashion and other technology. So I guess you could put this down as a "dislike", but limiting the scope of Steampunk to just "this era", is restricting the future of Steampunk.

Just today I asked myself what would 1987 look like if Steampunk did indeed change histories course during Victorian Era. What would life be like 100 years from that point? What would the fashion be like or the technology? Music? Etc.

I love the idea of the alternate timeline that occurs in the Victorian Era but I don't want to see Steampunk anchored to it. Like all good airships, there is no home just ports. I would like to see Steampunk with an unlimited future and endless possibilities.
Logged

-- Major Hadrian Hamish Sprocketsnipe
Kensington Locke
Officer
***
United States United States


« Reply #19 on: October 24, 2016, 03:11:02 pm »

..snip...writers investing themselves in story...snip..

Now onto another topic. I too am fairly new to Steampunk in terms of writing, but I have always been drawn to the aesthetic. I have a small concern about the general direction of the writings. My issue appears to be centered on the aspect that most stories revolve around the Victorian era or Post-apocalyptic worlds. Now, of course, I completely understand why that is, but my worry is there seems to be some apprehension for the genre to evolve. From the readings that I have done, both fiction and non-fiction, there seems to be a rule that limits the scope of the world. For example, I read that fashion should be limited to Victorian or early Edwardian. Poppycock!
...snip...Enterprise changes... snip...

For the sake of addressing all 3 items, I did some snipping.

To your first point, as a writer, I agree that an author should use some personal experiences, and invest into their story.  I think it's a bit easier to write a really sad scene if you've experiences something really sad.  20 years ago, I lacked that experience when I was writing.

But, as Lionel Shriver's gone on to say, a writer also needs to be able to have empathy and absorb other people's viewpoints and write from their perspective.  Not everything comes from the author's direct experience.  Some of it is by looking at other people's experience, and imagining what that was like, and then channeling that, representing their issues, pain and perspective.


Next point: I am not sure I have seen a hard rule about fashion and setting for steam punk.  Jim Butcher's "The Aeronaut's Windlass" isn't post apocalyptic, nor set in our world even.  But it's got old timey vibe to it.

I think somebody doing a time travel-like piece showing 1800's steam punk works and then 1987 future world would be interesting.  The key is, that if you make your 1987 world be DieselPunk, and don't allude to the SteamPunk precursor, then if it looks like a DieselPunk duck, quacks like a DieselPunk duck, it must be a DieselPunk Duck.  Much like writing Ferris Beuhler's Day Off and claiming it's future science fiction, written from the foundation of an 1800's like we actually had.

So to some extend, you've got to use the tropes to signal what genre it is.  Otherwise,you won't qualify as that genre.

Last point: Until Babylon 5 came out, Star Trek (and pretty much all non-soap opera American TV) was episodic and non-serial.  You could mostly shuffle the episodes and watch in any order because the status quo was reset by the end of the episode.  So, your point about the Enterprise is not quite right.  The ship, the characters pretty much did not change, other than the writing style as writers came and were fired (and TNG plowed through a ton of writers the first few years).


Logged
Cora Courcelle
Snr. Officer
****
England England



« Reply #20 on: October 24, 2016, 04:19:09 pm »


^^^^^
Yes indeed Mr Locke, I agree with all this.
Logged
RJBowman
Zeppelin Captain
*****


« Reply #21 on: October 24, 2016, 06:55:58 pm »

If you are going to write about science and technology, know something about science and technology. Saying "this works because aether" is lazy and cheap.
Logged
Kensington Locke
Officer
***
United States United States


« Reply #22 on: October 24, 2016, 10:58:19 pm »

If you are going to write about science and technology, know something about science and technology. Saying "this works because aether" is lazy and cheap.

Sounds like a good point, though I imagine there's at least a basic level that has to be met.  If you don't know how steam engines work at all and have a steam engine feature in the story, it might be good to google it up and get some terms right and not have any characters hug the steam engine for good luck.

In my current near-future sci-fantasy, I have the luxury of writing about our current technologies being used in clever ways, in which I am reasonably versant in, having spent a good many years working in the tech industry.  There's still a bit of hand-wavium going on, but I can intelligently allude to using an open source voice recognition package on a recompiled Android phone to make a spell triggering system that activates...stuff.



Logged
gaslampfantasy
Deck Hand
*
United Kingdom United Kingdom



WWW
« Reply #23 on: October 27, 2016, 10:03:59 am »

i quite like the "fish out of water" paradigm, such as a modern character transported, for example, to a steampunk world. The author can have fun comparing the mores and language of a modern character with a Victorian one.
Logged
Adaddinsane
Swab

United Kingdom United Kingdom

Gravatar

adaddinsane
WWW
« Reply #24 on: December 02, 2016, 09:54:12 am »

The term Mary Sue is used for males as well.

It is but you can use Marty Stu :-)
Logged

Steve Turnbull
Writer of Steampunk stories set in the Voidships universe
Pages: [1]   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.20 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!
Page created in 0.576 seconds with 15 queries.