Welcome back! I recently covered an interview with Barbra J. Dillon from Fanbase Press. It was interesting to have the perspectives and advice from someone who works in the publishing industry. Her interview gave me another idea for my writing steampunk series. Thematic material is very important in any form of fiction, but many people overlook it. What is a theme and how important is it in steampunk fiction? I'll explain it to you.
Truthfully, this post will work for most types of fiction. It doesn't have to be specific to steampunk. However, steampunk might have some recurring themes within the genre. Overall, a theme is a major component that a reader can pull out of a story. It's not the actual plot. Instead, themes are ideas, messages, or morals that an author disperses throughout their work. For those of you who want to be writers, it's important to have some cohesive ideas in the central story. Nearly every book has thematic material, even if it's unintentional. It's very common for readers to find themes that weren't consciously made by the author. That's completely okay. It happens all the time. On the flip side, many authors commit a lot of effort to their themes, but it might not seem obvious to the readers. That part is a bigger problem. Authors can be very meticulous with their thematic material and it's unfortunate if the audience doesn't recognize anything. Honestly, it means the author wasn't very clear. Most literary work has multiple themes. It's normal to have many themes in a book, but try not to go crazy. Stuffing twenty or more themes in a story can make a book seem convoluted, pretentious, and confusing. Make sure your themes fit the plot, characters, and conflicts. Your themes should make sense and support everything that's happening in the story. Readers might disconnect from your book if the thematic material seems out of place or random. I don't think it's difficult for authors to create thematic material. Writers simply need to find themes that are interesting or valuable to them.
What types of themes are common in steampunk literature? Notable themes include industrialization, science, moral ambiguity, societal conflicts, and anything regarding the punk element. Victorian and fantasy driven themes are also typical in steampunk. Some themes focus on the characters. Let me give you a couple examples. If your protagonist is a strong, rebellious female character, readers might pull out feminist themes. Perhaps, your story focuses on a major conflict between two social classes. That means the thematic material will focus on different types of societal conflicts like status, privilege, money, corruption, etc. Individuality would probably be a significant theme for a protagonist who is the lone wolf type with a lot trust issues. There's no limit to the thematic material. An author can create any themes they find appropriate.
Steampunk can also include themes that are not specific to particular genres. Common thematic material includes love, ambition, vengeance, hope, forgiveness, despair, truth, lies, honor, greed, etc. The list could literally continue forever. If you're incorporating a lot of romance in a steampunk tale, love will be a major theme. What if your protagonist is on a quest to avenge someone they lost? At that point, you're looking at vengeance and possibly forgiveness. You'll always have a lot of choice for thematic material. That's why themes are so easy and approachable. Granted, it also means to you need to pick and choose the most important themes.
What are the challenging elements about thematic material? Many authors begin with a list of specific themes to include in their work. The story begins with a specific set of themes, but then it might venture away from them. At the end, you wind up with completely different themes. Suddenly, you lost the plot's consistency and main ideas. If this situation happens, readers will probably feel confused and frustrated. That's partially why I think a basic outline can be helpful. Outlines don't need to be complex, but they can help a writer stay on track and remember important themes.
I include a variety of themes in The Post-Apocalyptic Society. My characters try to include a lot of Victorianism and Romanticism from the 19th century in their culture. The series is both dystopian and post-apocalyptic, so you'll see themes about survival. I try to include the concepts of genetic engineering and industrial revolution. You could probably find retro futurism and an unconventional view on evolution. My characters place a strong value on family and allies, so you should also spot loyalty as a big theme too. Perhaps, you could find other themes in my work.
That concludes my post about thematic material in steampunk fiction. I foresee more writing topics in the future. Leave a comment if you want to say anything about this post. Next week's post will probably be another film review. There are so many fascinating movies in 2017. It's almost time for Halloween too! I hope you guys have time to party, but try not to get in trouble. Have fun Trick or Treating with the kids and stay tuned for next week's post.
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