Update on the Steampunk Work-in-Progress

Steampunk Ghostbusting portrait

This past week has seen some major editing being done on the Steampunk YA work-in-progress. I’ve been taking my own advice, as well as taking hints from other writers’ blogs on WordPress. All-in-all, I have finally tapped into the enormous potential WordPress has for supporting a writer, by providing a community context for what is essentially a solo occupation. So, what did I achieve over this week?

I’ve rewritten the start of the novel, to plunge the reader straight into the action. Personally, I don’t mind a slow reveal at the start of a novel, but as an emerging writer I shouldn’t try to be too clever and lose my audience. I’ve shared this new start here on the blog. I was uncertain whether to do that or not, as it was a first draft, and it will most likely be much changed in the final draft. Then I decided What the heck! This blog is about writing, and like to see other writers’ processes, and I figure I’m not the only person fascinated with the writing process. A new beginning means a change in intent, atmosphere and expectations, and the rest of the novel has to adapt to that change.

I’ve added a couple of ‘walk ins’ by historical personages. Mary Somerville, Arabella Buckley and Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) are all now scheduled to make an appearance in the narrative. As prominent women in science, I have Mary and Bella giving my protagonist some feminine support against the patriarchal world of Victorian British Science. Dodgson should have been an obvious inclusion, since my Alice works with talking flowers, (well, a talking tree man). I can use references to Alice in Wonderland as a thematic device in my novel. After all, the Steampunk literary genre does allow for these cameos of real historical personages.

“Good afternoon. We haven’t been introduced, but I am a great admirer of your books, Mrs Somerville. My name is Professor Alice Saint de Cologne,” she said, and gave a tiny curtsey.

“You have probably guessed that I am Mrs William Somerville, and this is Miss Arabella Buckley, my editor,” said the elderly woman, accompanying the introduction with a kind smile. “I’ve heard of you, my dear.”

“I have also heard about you,” said Miss Buckley. “And I have quite a few of your creations bearing fruit and flowers in my gardens.”

“I hope everything you heard of me was good,” said Alice.

Miss Buckley flushed and pursed her lips. She looked embarrassed, and couldn’t meet Alice’s gaze. Alice felt herself start to blush, and wished herself a thousand miles away.

Mrs Somerville glanced sharply at both of them. “Oh, look at the both of you,” she said in an exasperated tone. “Of course Bella and I will have heard some silly, pompous men make claims that you, Professor  Saint de Cologne, are impertinent and have ideas above your station, and other nonsense. We need not take any heed of such idiocy, as sensible women.”

I have decided to use Victorian food as a sustained metaphor throughout the novel. Victorian dishes range from stodgy to magnificent … what a great way of lamp-shading what is going on in a scene. Bad food hints at bad events, and visa versa.

Currently the novel is standing at over 115,000 words in length. This will vary over the next few weeks as the editing process prunes away the deadwood, and adds fresh wood to fill in the gaps in the hedge. Wish me luck!

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8 Comments

Filed under Personal experience, Steampunk, Steampunk Work-in-Progress, writing, YA Work in Progress

8 responses to “Update on the Steampunk Work-in-Progress

  1. I didn’t realize you were also writing a novel. That’s fantastic. As an aspiring author who has actually finished a book recently, the very best piece of advice I can offer you is to join Critique Circle (www.critiquecircle.com) and submit your work to the other writers for review. What’s great about CC is that there is a point system in place, so in order to submit work you have to give critiques on others’ work first, to earn enough points to submit your own. And honestly, writing critiques is probably a more valuable experience that receiving them. If you post I’ll make it a point to critique your work (just let me know if you join and your screen name).

    Good luck!

    • I already have a network of beta readers, with a couple of published authors in the mix to make it interesting. And I am a beta reader in return. I agree with your statement about writing critiques. Writing critiques helps you focus on weaknesses in your own work.

      • That’s great. My understanding of Beta Readers is that they are the people you ask to read your completed manuscript for overall pacing and story critiques. The point of CC is to submit individual chapters of your WIP as you are writing it. I suppose these would be Alpha Readers. I did this with The Last Princess, and it was a tremendous time-saver and gave me much-needed direction when I was mid-way through the book. CC also have very active forums where you can bounce ideas, ask for opinions, and where people with every conceivable skill-set will answer research questions. I used the name generator there to help come up with some of the names in my book, too.

        Are you at a point where you are looking for people to read your finished manuscript? I’d be happy to trade you beta-read for beta-read, if you want to look at The Last Princess.

      • I am still heavily into editing and rewrites. But I will certainly take you up on the offer! However, today, I’m off for a job interview.

  2. Really cool to see characters in a steampunk setting tackling the sexism of the era head on, especially in the admirable but male-dominated world of science.

    • Thank you. Best part is that Mary Somerville was a big supporter of the suffragette movement.

      • Awesome. Did you know that the suffragettes eventually had their own armed guards? They trained in some kind of martial art – I can’t remember which – and carried clubs so that if the police tried to arrest their leaders they could resist. Crazy the lengths they had to go to just to be treated as equal.

      • No battle is won without casualties on both sides. And people often think the martial art was a form of Bartitsu. Not so.

        Edith Margaret Garrud (1872–1971) was among the first female professional martial arts instructors in the Western world. She is remembered for having trained the Bodyguard unit of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) in jujutsu self-defence techniques.(Excerpt from Wikipedia). It is a shame she is too ‘late’ for me to use in my WiP. However, she is the inspiration for my protagonist’s best female friend and lab assistant, Miss Sophie Watson.

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