And it’s Friday yet again. Funny how that day of the week keeps turning up, isn’t it? The week has been a glorious roller coaster ride here in the darkest jungles of Appalachia: first things are great, then they’re terrible, then they’re entertaining, then they’re frustrating. Never a dull moment here in our treetop lair. Right now I’m watching a sign of the apocalypse unfolding in my very own front yard: my husband is working on my car (something he’s been putting off for a looong time). Sigh. I guess I’m going to have to keep that man for another few years, even if it he getting a little long in the tooth (for myself, I’m still as bright and fabulous as I was when I was twenty, and I defy anybody to tell me any different!).
Gotta ask a question. Okay, so my daughter recommended a book to me last week, and (because she loves the book and threatened dire vengeance if didn’t) I read it. It was billed as steampunk, and I enjoyed it very much. BUT. I don’t think it was steampunk. It was set in what appeared (marginally) to be Edwardian times, but beyond that, no, nothing that screamed Steampunk at me, either in props, story, character or tone. My question is, what do y’all want me to do when I come across a book/movie/media like that? Review it anyway, and pronounce my opinion that it doesn’t fall in our beloved genres? Skip it entirely? I’m kind of torn myself. A couple times I’ve reviewed marginal material like that, but I am unsure. I don’t want to water things down too much. Tell me what you think in the comments.
Still no joy on the email thing. Son is busy and I’m hesitant to try it myself; I’m sure to screw it up. If he doesn’t pop up soon (like in the next 24 hours), I’ll try something else. We’ll be back up and running by Monday or else!
Okay, on to business. Most of the time I don’t get too deep into the writing stuff here on the blog. Yes, I’m a writer, and I adore my job (writing is something you do for love, because I guarantee you’re not doing it for the money). But I didn’t want to do yet another writing blog; I seldom read them myself unless I’m looking for specific information, and who the heck am I to give advice anyway? Besides, exploring my beloved genres is much more fun than talking about characterization any day!
But the fact remains that I am a writer, and I do end up collecting writing stuff that I find online. My bookmark list is filled with tidbits marked “Reference material” and “inspiration” and “Editing advice.” Not all of it applies to Steampunk, Dieselpunk or New Pulp, but a lot of it does. And while not all of you are writers, I know some of you are. And if you’re not, you may be gamers who need to write scenarios to torture your players with. Or if not that, the sorts of info that writers dig up can still be fascinating stuff for you curious types. This is especially true with our genres, where so much of it is firmly rooted in historical eras, events and people.
The first resource I have for you is a delicious one. I have it filed under all things Dieselpunk, but it would be useful to any of the genres, and is just fascinating reading for anybody who likes anything spy related. The Encyclopedia of Espionage is exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a clearinghouse of articles on espionage and spying, focusing mostly (but not exclusively) on World War II to the present. It’s hardly comprehensive, mostly focusing on specific events, and there are almost no discussions of specific people or their contributions as primary listings, though it has internal linkings. For example, there is no primary listing for Mata Hari. But under “Espionage – Chronology,” she’s listed, and a link is provided to a very good article on an outside site. Not one hundred percent user friendly in that regard. But there’s a dedicated search engine at the top of the page which is very helpful (it’s how I found Mata Hari’s listing). And all the pages I’ve seen have very good links and bibliographies for those of us who can’t give up our addiction to the delicious smell of paper and glue.
Next, for our Steampunk friends, here is a page I found a few months ago. Steamed is a blog shared by a bunch of established Steampunk writers:
- Suzanne Lazear, author of The Aether Chronicles
- Theresa Meyers, author of The Legend Chronicles
- Maeve Alpin, author of The Steam-Gyptian-Punk series
- Cindy Spencer Pape, author of a bunch of stuff, including some Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences offerings and The Gaslight Chronicles
- Ray Dean, prolific short story writer and contributor to the Tinkered Tales series, among others
- and O.M. Grey, author of the Steampunk Guide to Sex, Avalon Revisited and the Nickie Nick Vampire Hunter steampunk YA series.
Quite the collection of Steampunk authors, no? And to have that much concentrated oomph in one blog is a treat. Many of the posts are after-action convention reports (with lots of pretty pictures), talks about developments in the genre or things of general interest to Steampunk enthusiasts. But what caught my attention and landed the blog on my bookmark list was a subpage entitled Writing Steampunk. It’s a little collection of brief essays on the craft of creating Steampunk stories. There’s not a whole lot here, just fourteen articles (so far). But they’re good, informative essays written by people who are actively shaping the genre in real time, not just theory. I have consulted these several times while working on this blog, as well as on my radio drama, and they have been very helpful. Even if you’re not a writer, read them because it’s good to know what the pros are thinking about the path of Steampunk and what defines our genre.
Finally, something for fans of New Pulp. Anybody who’s been reading in the genre for more than ten minutes has heard of Lester Dent and his Master Fiction Plot, which, for the non-writers out there, is Dent’s generalized template that will let anybody write a 6000 word pulp short story, regardless of subgenre (for the record, the above link is from Paper Dragons, an RPG page that has a nice resource section for anybody interested in the late 1930’s). I like Dent’s general template okay; it’s a nice overview, but it usually leaves me a little flat. Don’t ask me why; I guess I just find it a little too general.
So I went looking for something with a little more detail, and found this. Pulp Centric is another RPG site (I love RPG sites; nerds ROCK) devoted to, duh! pulp-centric RPG’s. It’s defunct now, and was apparently fairly short-lived. But one of its subpages is the 10-Minute Plot Formula. This is a gem! It takes the Lester Dent template and breaks it down, explaining in detail how to make each step happen. It even gives examples and variations on structure and approach. I find this an invaluable tool when I’m stuck for where to go next, or when I just need a little impetus on a story my brain is balking on. I recommend it in highest terms.
Okay, as usual on Fridays, this blog post is a little short. Other than, “Lookie here, ain’t it great, check it out!” there just ain’t that much to say about link lists. You know the drill: share, comment, tweet. Like I said at the top, I’m going to have the email situation fixed one way or the other, or else. I’ll be back on Monday with the long-awaited final installment of April Tyree’s adventure in the New York pyramid. I’m sorry for making y’all wait, but I guarantee I’m finishing it up, because I have a big plan for what comes next. Let’s just say that my steampunk fans will not be disappointed! In the meantime, y’all enjoy your weekend, and be good. Of course if you can’t be good, better not to get caught. Bye for now!