Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Steampunk? Setting a Scene

Tension is wonderful for making people laugh.
~ John Cleese
Well this post was going to be about setting a scene, but I ran across the term steampunk and thought I’d dig in and see what this genre, if you will, is all about.

From wikipedia: “Steampunk is a genre which originated during the 1980s and early 1990s and incorporates elements science fiction, fantasy, alternate history,
horror, and speculative fiction. It involves a setting where steam power is
widely used—whether in an alternate history such as Victorian era Britain
or “Wild West”-era United States, or in a post-apocalyptic time —that
incorporates elements of either science fiction or fantasy. Works of
steampunk often feature anachronistic technology, or futuristic innovations
as Victorians might have envisioned them, based on a Victorian perspective
on fashion, culture, architectural style, and art. This technology includes
such fictional machines as those found in the works of H. G. Wells and
Jules Verne, or the contemporary authors Philip Pullman, Scott Westerfeld
and China Mieville,of  Wikipedia.”

So there you have it, Steampunk is a genre and almost the same thing as setting a scene! That was a pretty cool find to my eyes, seeing that this post was about setting a scene, and basically steampunk is about, the scene. Setting a scene is vital to your story, whether it is a short story or novel. The scene is what is going to reel your reader in, whether it's the streets of San Francisco, New York, or a newly discovered planet that you will be inhabiting with your characters.

Had Tolkien been alive when this steampunk term came about, his Lord of the Rings might be considered steampunk, and I’m so glad he lived in an era where it was just termed fantasy, because to me, steampunk is beneath Tolkien’s high quality of writing. Although his world of Middle Earth was not a new planet or space vehicles flittering about the universe, he did create a world where creatures and flying vehicles were not of THIS world. I mean seriously, when was the last time man and eagle connected and flew humans to new heights? Seen any hobbits running around lately? Visit Mordor recently?

Jack M. Bickham, in Scene & Structure, How to Construct Fiction with Scene-by-scene Flow, Logic and Readability, describes a scene as a segment of story action, written moment-by-moment, without summary, presented onstage in the story "now." He also portrays a scene as having a fundamental pattern: Statement of a goal, Introduction and development of conflict, Failure of the character to reach his goal, a tactical disaster.   

The scene is a pivotal element in writing in which the writer needs to set up. Here, Setting a Scene, you can find more info on setting the scene, and this should help you as a writer in making up your mind whether you want long descriptive scenes or short cut and dry. As a writer, you have the imagination to soar with the eagles and bring the new world to your reader in a manner that is believable and riveting enough to become a page turner that leaves people wanting more and more of your work.

Welcome to the world of writing. Welcome to the Steampunk era!

Don't mistake a good setup for a satisfying conclusion -- many beginning writers end their stories when the real story is just ready to begin.
~Stanley Schmidt

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