The Highs and Lows of Editing in the Steampunk Genre

Nivatima Dimentia, Steampunk at its finest.

Nivatima Dimentia, Steampunk at its finest.

Steampunk is:

  • A subgenre of science fiction and fantasy featuring advanced machines and other technology based on steam power of the 19th century and taking place in a recognizable historical period or a fantasy world. (

  • A subgenre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery, especially in a setting inspired by industrialized Western civilization during the 19th century. (Wikipedia)

  • a genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology. (Oxford Dictionary)

I am currently in the middle of edits and rewrites for my current Work-in-Progress (WiP). I am concentrating on the genre markers and subtexts at the moment, strengthening the scaffold of my story, and filling in holes. I’m making sure the characters stay true to the natures I have provided them. If something tries to twist away on a tangent, I make a note of it but abandon working on it for too long or too hard. I want to leave that for the third edit.

This is how my process goes:

1/ First draft – written just to get the story down. Full of gaps and bad writing.

2/ First edit – getting an overall feel for the story. Seeing what works and what doesn’t. Getting the story into a good enough shape that I can show this to someone else.

3/ Second draft – Where I am now! Building up the characters, themes, settings, and fixing the plot holes.

4/  Polishing – A repeat of the first edit and second draft.

5/ Beta-reading stage, where the final tweaking occurs and the line edit occurs. Where I have to draw a line in the sand and call it a day.

So, I am halfway through the second draft. This is the longest stage for me. This is probably due to my constantly fiddling with the story. I always want to add more of everything. I don’t know when to stop researching, because I am always finding out new details that will enrich my narrative.

I am not an over-writer, like Stephen King, who writes more words he needs and then prunes his block of words into the sculptural intricacies of a plot. I am an embroiderer, starting off with a fairly plain cloth and then building up layers of colour to create my patterns. By the end of this second draft, I will have a huge file of false starts and deleted scenes. But I will also have some great stuff that would never have occurred to me without having the bulk of the first draft in place.

Some people forget the journey should be as much of an experience as the destination. The journey of my WiP gives me a great deal of satisfaction. If you are interesting in seeing some of my research, I have a page on Facebook you can investigate:


Filed under Editing, Genre, Steampunk, YA Work in Progress

6 responses to “The Highs and Lows of Editing in the Steampunk Genre

  1. Thanks for this. I have come here many a time and never quite ‘got’ Steampunk. Had no idea it was an actual genre either. Sounds exciting!

    • Steampunk actually started ‘life’ as a science fiction literary genre. I’m not the biggest fan of the name, as I prefer Neo-Victorian (or Vicwardian) Retro-futurism. But you have to work with what you are given, and I spend a lot of time educating people to what defines Steampunk. I do seminars and run a Facebook page. As Steampunk slowly drifts into the mainstream, I’m doing my best to raise its profile.

      • I’m learning so much today. Vicwardian – have not heard that before. Like it. But try saying that whole phrase after a few pints!

        So what got YOU so interested in it? And have there been any books turned into films yet?

      • I was always a girl who love her Science Fiction and Fantasy fiction. I also have a science degree, and love the history of science – and the Victorian era is when modern science really took off. For me, Steampunk is a mix of all my favourite things, the Science Fiction (with a dash of Fantasy), the history, and the heavy use of historical events and personages. Once I realised there was a genre that covered all of these things, I took to it in a whirl of gears.

        There are a couple of bad films, like ‘The Wild, Wild West’ and ‘The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’, which didn’t do the genre any favours, or the source material. My personal favourite is ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’. The television show ‘Murdoch Mysteries’ is Steampunk, particularly in the earlier seasons.

        As a feminist, I find the patriarchal attitudes of the Victorian era a great foil for pointing out the equivalent out-dated thinking in this era.

      • Well now, I shall check out one of these sources and try an watch online when time permits, it all sounds rather interesting and how wild to find a genre that already encapsulated all the stuff you love..

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