You need conflict for your story. You Need Big Conflict.
Don’t think war, think revolution. Revolution pits brother against brother and father against son. Even mother against father. That’s conflict.
The east coast is sinking. I recently saw an article where Boston is having troubles with rising sea levels. They have signs on one street where at high tide the street is flooded. Of course someone is going to have to pay to fix it and the ones that live there don’t want to pay for it.
Living on the west coast, in California, I feel left out. You never see anything about the problems that rising sea levels will cause in California. Near me is a marina where the houses have a boat dock for a back yard. It will not take much of a sea level rise to flood those houses. Of course California is not close to the nation’s capital where all the political action is. It’s like California doesn’t count. The people in Boston had better be concerned. California has the third longest coastline in the U. S. And California has some expensive coastline.
What’s that got to do with writing Steampunk?
Political visibility was worst in the steampunk era. There was only a single railway line connecting the east and the west coast. Telegrams were very expensive. Letters could take weeks to get from one coast to the other. The west coast could fall off into the ocean for all Washington DC could care.
What we need is a steampunk story where California and several neighboring states/territories succeed from the union. Why? What if they were being heavily taxed and not getting anything for the money that’s being taken. Don’t forget that the civil war started income tax. It was not popular, but effected the very rich. What if the politicians got greedy? What if they figured that since California had gold then Californian’s should pay more? The money is being used to pay down the debt that was run up during the civil war and of course to pay for other east coast things (like graft and corruption). Arizona would not succeed, but that’s another story or subplot. Air ships cannot haul a lot of people. With only one railway line through the rocky mountains it would be easy to cut off the military from getting to California. It’s takes months for a ship to get from the east coast to the west coast.
Stop the trains at the top of the Rocky Mountains in the winter and the troops could freeze. Think Donner Pass. All you have to do is blow up the tracks in front of the train and behind the train. Now you have a couple of thousand troops without enough food or water, that’s conflict or a sub plot. The locals in the rocky mountains might turn on the troops if the troops took their food. Many people in the mountains, in the 1800s, were living hand to mouth. Take out a couple of bridges and the troops would be stranded. The train tracks go over some deep gorges. A big airship could haul maybe a hundred troops and some equipment so hauling an invasion force would not work. But Californians were armed and knew how to use their guns. Once the troops get to California they could not just live off the land in California during the winter.
Ad, Wanted Beta Readers. I’ll read your book if you’ll read mine.
If an effort to sell my book here is this week’s recipe.
Ingredients, enough to make about 12 Pancakes:
8 oz bacon
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs yolks, beaten
2 large egg whites
1/2 stick of melted butter
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/3 cups milk (use buttermilk if you plan ahead)
Serve with warm maple syrup and soft butter.
Drain and cool bacon.
Separate the yolk from the egg whites.
Place dry ingredients in mixing bowl. Add milk and beaten egg yolk. Mix a little. Add egg white and fold in. Do not mix heavily. Leave lumps (adding egg white last and genteelly folding them in makes the pancakes fluffy).
Break bacon into pieces and add to batter
Heat skillet, spoon batter into hot pan. Water will dance on pan if it is hot enough.
Serve and enjoy.
Stay strong, write on, and think revolution.
Professor Hyram Voltage
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