Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Fault In My Steampunk

I wrote a steampunk short story a few months for an anthology releasing later this year.  But the
Steampunk - A bit more than corsets and clockworks.
theme was genre crossover.  As straight steampunk, it didn’t fit the bill very well.  I needed a second genre.  I’m a fantasy writer first, so I went back to the well, and changed a key element in the conclusion, rewriting about two-thousand words.  For the purposes of this article and to avoid annoying vagary, I’ll lie and tell you that I changed a cyborg into a unicorn.

Satisfied that I’d met the criteria of the anthology, I started with all my usual quality checks.  I sent it to a number of beta readers (thanks B-Team!) and they provided their valuable feedback.  They also, without fail, all replied with something along the lines of, “I totally thought that unicorn was going to be a cyborg.”

Also comes in extra-large!
No one had a problem with the unicorn, per se.  It didn’t change the ultimate conclusion of the story, or how the steampunk elements worked with the unicorn.  But I laughed every time I received the comment because it was so consistent.

I finished up the beta-reader edits, polished the story and sent it over to my editor friend, Shawn.  Everyone should have a professional editor for a friend.  They’re like a Thneed, a great thing that all people need!  Shawn waved her magical editing wand over my short story, and returned it to me with her comments and observations along with a note that said, “I totally thought that unicorn was going to be a cyborg.”

I agreed, thanked Shawn for her efforts, and went once more unto that editing breech that most writers loathe.  A week later, my final spit and polish version done, I sent it over to the publisher for review.

Why?  What do your unicorns look like?
Last week, while I was alternately writhing in pain and being dosed with wonderful drugs, the publisher, Jesse, emailed me back.  He liked the story very much and thought it fit well in the steampunk anthology.  Jesse did have one requested change that he wanted to discuss [edited to maintain the lie mentioned above]:

I would make a suggestion. To add more Steampunk elements, make the unicorn a mechanical cyborg, cogs kind of thing.

Now why didn’t I think of that?

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