So far, I've written six books, four of those are finished and three are published, you can buy them on Amazon with real money and everything. You should definitely buy some or all of them, they'll make you laugh heartily, at me, probably even out loud. But enough of this ceaseless advertising - To the point in hand.
I've just posted something on Facebook, in reply to something that someone else, who I don't really know, posted. It was about a situation that this chap had found himself in that had caused him some confusion and discomfort. It seems that someone had told him what could and couldn't be described as 'Steampunk'
I'm guessing that you've encountered Steampunk, especially if you've been on the Internet some time in the past few years. As far as I'm concerned, it's a genre that's based on a Victorian style world where technology has moved on, but the facial hair hasn't. That didn't realy describe it very well, did it? It's stuff like this:
|This is G.D. Falksen, the stern God of Steampunks|
|This is Kato, she's the beautiful Goddess (and Welsh, which is lovely, Bach)|
Everyone travels by Jules Verne style airship:
|Random airship via Google|
And there are an awful lot of top hats, goggles, brown leather and cogs all over everything. I dabble in steampunkery to an extent, there are a lot of airships in my next novel. The Heroine of The Windspider Chronicles wears a brown leather jacket, but she's a sky-pirate, so she's allowed to. I know people who daily dress the part as a matter of course, and whilst I don't have the financial liquidity, technical skill or wardrobe capacity to be as splendid as they are, I wouldn't mind giving it a go.
So, going off topic slightly there, back to the subject... This fellow was told, by a couple of people who are supposedly 'in the know', that for a story to be 'Steampunk' it MUST contain some anti-establishment social commentary.
I MUST include a chinless toff called Rupert who carries his Father's sword but has no idea how to swing it because the upper classes are all useless, spineless weaklings who are only fit to act as a transport system for excess moustache wax?
I MUST include a salt-of-the-earth engineering type whose parents only met that one time; but saves the day when the main gas-bag is holed by a lucky shot from a genetically-engineered hedgehog with a steam-powered rocket launcher?
I MUST include a simpering female of some sort who rails against the gender role that her father gave her but still couldn't pass the Bechdel test with a following wind and a team of Sherpas?
I'll be buggered sideways by a rabid Dutchman before I'll sit there and be told what MUST be included in a story to make it true to the genre.
I'll write what I want, thank you very much. It'll be written with a sense of humour and it'll be original (Well, all the bits that I've not unthinkingly plagiurised will be at least). More importantly, the stuff you write should be attacked in exactly the same way. Write something you'd like to read; if you think it needs more cogs, sprinkle a few liberally about the place. If you can see brown leather as far as the eye can see, then clad everything in your imagination with coffee-coloured-cowskin.
You want erotica? Write some erotica. You want procedural piracy? Then put on your descriptive tricorn hat and have at it.
But most of all have fun, if you enjoy writing it, then there's a damn good chance someone else out there is going to enjoy reading it.
And who knows, they might even pay you for the privilege - Which is always a good thing.